Thursday, August 13, 2009

(LUSAKATIMES) More farmers join the FRA complaints bandwagon

More farmers join the FRA complaints bandwagon
Thursday, August 13, 2009, 13:14

Farmers in Kawambwa district have complained at the slow pace at which the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is buying maize in the area.

Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Philemon Chilufya said the pace at which FRA is buying maize was slow forcing farmers to spend a number of days at the maize satellite depots.

He accused the FRA of having breached the earlier agreement that farmers were to be paid 10 days after delivery of their produce to satellite depots.

Mr Chilufya has also complained at the small number of bags of maize allowed for each cooperative to sell to the FRA.

He said the 200 x 50 kg bags were not adequate because some areas had many satellite depots yet the same number is what was allowed.

Mr Chilufya said there was a risk of farmers being forced to start selling their produce to briefcase businessmen for fast cash.

Mr Chilufya has since appealed to the government to intervene and increase the number of bags if all farmers were to benefit.

Meanwhile, Kawambwa District Farmers Association (KADFA) coordinator Charles Wapalwena said about K189 million has so far been paid out to farmers.

Mr Wapalwena said another K100 million had been deposited into the bank and assured farmers that they would be paid what was due to them.

Asked why only one transporter was engaged to transport maize from satellite depots to the main shade, Mr Wapalwena said FRA was responsible for engaging of transporters.

He added that only one local transporter qualified to carry out the transportation of maize saying others who were engaged last year were not reliable.

Mr Wapalwena has since appealed to FRA to consider increasing the number of transporters for quick delivery of maize to the main shade.

And when asked for a comment, District Agriculture Coordinator (DACO)Henry Mugomba said so far, about K1.3 billion worth of maize had already been procured by FRA.

The Food Reserve Agency has targeted to buy over 32,000 x 50 kg bags of maize in Kawambwa district this marketing season.


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