Friday, August 28, 2009
ZNFU challenges Chituwo to explain extra funding to FRA
Written by Kabanda Chulu
Friday, August 28, 2009 3:01:58 PM
ZAMBIA National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba yesterday challenged agriculture and cooperatives minister Brian Chituwo to clarify his statement about additional funding to the FRA since there seems to be a ‘circus’ in the maize marketing process.
Dr Chituwo, who is currently in the Northern Province to check on the crop marketing exercise, announced that the government has released over K200 billion additional funding to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) that would be available by today (Friday) in all districts across the country.
But FRA chairman Costain Chilala said the government has directed the agency to borrow K271 billion from commercial banks for additional purchase of maize and that funding would only be available in the next three weeks.
Speaking yesterday, Zimba said the government should not just focus on borrowed money but should instead release funding that was allocated to the FRA in the national budget.
“We are happy with President Rupiah Banda’s intervention that FRA should buy more maize from farmers but we hope Dr Chituwo is not being misquoted that funds will be available by end of this week (Friday) because we know that it is a process to access borrowed money and that it can take many weeks,” Zimba said.
“It seems there is a circus in the maize marketing process and Dr Chituwo should clarify this inconsistency from his statement and that of the FRA because this development will result in many farmers to start camping at FRA depots in a bid get their money and yet money is not readily available.”
He advised the government to disburse in full the funding budgeted for the FRA so that borrowed money would only cushion what the FRA already had.
“We all know that only K30 billion has been released to the FRA out of the K100 billion that is meant for crop marketing exercise for this season so government should not focus so much on borrowed money but release the balance of K70 billion to the FRA,” said Zimba.