Thousands of farmers who supplied maize to the Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA) are still waiting for payment.
One irate farmer of Chongwe, Lusaka Province, in desperation resorted to air his grievances to the local media, demanding that the FRA return his crop.
“I can reassure them is that government is concerned about their plight and everything is being done to clear all outstanding balances owed to farmers across the country,” said a Ministry of Agriculture official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to the official from the Ministry of Agriculture, there was still an outstanding balance of about K250 million owed to farmers out of the initial K600 million.
The crop marketing season ended on 31 October 31 2017. There was a rush of sales from farmers prior to that date as farmers feared their crop would go to waste without a market and proper storage.
However, the lack of payment by FRA spelled more woes for farmers who were depending on the outstanding payments to buy inputs for this year’s planting season.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) said the delayed payments coupled by late distribution of inputs will lead to a crisis in maize production.
“The situation we found ourselves in is a crisis looming in the agriculture sector,” ZNFU Head of Communications Calvin Kaleyi told local media.