–Some irate farmers from Luageni Constituency in Chipata today stormed the District Commissioner’s office to complain over delayed payments for the maize they supplied to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
The farmers complained that the delay by the FRA to pay them their money has greatly affected them in terms of planning as they are not able to pay co-operatives for the 2014-2015 farming inputs.
Farmers’ representative Jacob Shumba noted that despite supplying the maize to the FRA the agency has failed to pay them in good time, a situation which he said will affect their farming preparations.
Mr Shumba said despite assurances by government that they will be paid within two weeks of supplying their produce to the FRA, the agency has not done so.
He expressed fears that the co-operatives in his area had already started distributing farming inputs therefore causing more panic among farmers to get their money.
But Chipata District Commissioner Kalunga Zulu disclosed that government had released K1, 550,000 million to clear all the balances that the FRA owes farmers in the district and that payments would start today.
Mr Zulu assured the farmers in the district that the FRA will settle all the outstanding balances it was owing them.
He said farmers would start receiving their money based on the first-in-first-out payment system.
Mr Zulu added that government was still committed to ensuring that farmers are paid within two weeks of supplying their produce to the FRA.
He acknowledged that government had delayed a bit but urged the farmers not to be discouraged as his office was doing everything possible to improve the payment mode.