By Derrick Silimina
The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has expressed delight that the Government has released 59% (K960 million) of what farmers are owed by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for maize supplied to the Agency during the 2021 marketing window.
On Monday, Secretary to the Treasury Felix Nkulukusa released K1.284 billion of which K960 million is meant for outstanding payments to farmers under the 2020/2021 farming season, and K324 million is the 2022 first-quarter operational support fund for public schools.
Outstanding payments to farmers for the 2020/2021 season have now been reduced by 59 percent from K1.63 billion to K670 million after the release of the K960 million.
ZNFU Media and Public Relations Manager Calvin Kaleyi says that while this is plausible, the farmers Union is concerned that the perpetual delayed payments by the FRA and ambivalent position that this creates is a serious matter that affects future production and productivity and compromises national food security.
“We are afraid that farmers are being taken for granted by the FRA as this is not a new matter. Why should we as farmers have to suffer before our grievances are attended to? Going forward, we appeal to the FRA and the Treasury to meticulously plan ahead to ensure farmers are not demoralised,” Kaleyi said.
Meanwhile, some farmers have expressed concern that the delayed payment to those who supplied maize to FRA will affect the 2021/2022 farming season.
“Since we are now in the long awaited and much publicised New Dawn budget, I urge the Government to release all the money to farmers immediately. They told us to wait for their 2022 budget. Can they release all the money owed to the farmers so that we can go about their farming activities as this is the only way we support our livelihoods,” said Timothy Michelo, a Lusaka based farmer.