—Katete District Commissioner, Peter Kunda Kaisa, has urged farmers in the district to remain calm as government was working towards paying the money owed to them through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Col Kaisa said government has already started paying farmers who supplied maize to the Food Reserve Agency as was seen in other districts in the province and other parts of the country, adding that any time soon Katete district will also receive its share.
He said government remains concerned with the plight of the farmers, adding that it was doing everything possible to address the situation.
The DC acknowledged that farmers are a key component of the sector that was driving Zambia’s economy.
He explained that during the maize marketing season Katete district had only planned to purchase 360,000 x 50kg bags of maize.
Col Kaisa further said due to the overwhelming produce government had to stretch its budget by allowing farmers to continue selling their produce to agency, adding that Katete district also ended up buying double the amount of bags planned.
The DC explained that because of this the district also experienced that shortage of empty grain bags.
Yesterday, scores of farmers trooped to the FRA depot in Katete demanding payment for their maize or to be given back their grain so that they could sell it elsewhere.
Nason Phiri of Vulamukoko told ZANIS in Katete that it was unfortunate that the district has not received any share from the money that government recently released to pay the farmers.
Mr Phiri said farmers wanted to get their money for maize back if the depot manager could not give them a convincing answer as to why they were not getting paid.
He said the workers at the depot run away and closed the gates instead of explaining to the farmers what the situation was.
Mr Phiri said it was unfair for government to continue delaying the payments when the rainy season was already in and farmers were depending on the same money to pay for farming inputs.
He explained that most farmers have not collected the farming inputs as they do not have money to pay for the Farmer Input Support program (FISP).