–Scores of small scale farmers in Nchelenge district in Luapula province yesterday besieged the National Savings and Credit Bank demanding to be paid their dues by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Nchelenge District Farmers Association Chairperson, Peter Chibeka, confirmed the fracas to the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) in an interview shortly after he addressed the angry farmers yesterday.
Mr Chibeka said the angry farmers besieged the bank around 09: 30 hours demanding to be paid their money for the maize they supplied to the FRA during the just-ended marketing season.
Mr Chibeka, who estimated that only 30 per cent of the farmers that sold their maize to the agency have been paid, said he was at pains to convince the farmers to calm down.
“I was at pains to explain to the farmers that the delayed payment for their maize produce was not the fault of the bank,” he said.
He said the farmers caused a scare and commotion as they vowed not to leave the bank premises until they get their money.
The farmers’ association boss said the farmers’ concerns are genuine and has since appealed to the government to bail out the FRA and expeditiously pay the farmers their dues.
He observed that the delayed payment by the FRA to the small scale farmers in the area has adversely affected the processing of the farmer inputs distribution for the 2014/2015 farming season.
Mr Chibeka further observed that the farmers can only make the deposits for inputs once they are paid for their supply.
Mr Chibeka, who is also a member of the District Agricultural Committee (DAC), expressed worry that the crop yields will drastically drop next year unless the government intervenes and pays out the farmers without any further delay.
He noted that the small scale farmers in the area have literally failed to meet the inputs application conditions because they have not been paid by the FRA.
He revealed that despite the go-ahead by the Ministry of Agriculture for the deposits to access the 2014/2015 farming inputs, only a few groups have submitted their application forms to the DAC for appraisal and subsequent approval.