Saturday, April 24, 2010

Govt cautions farmers on briefcase businessmen

Govt cautions farmers on briefcase businessmen
By Creavat Chituta in Solwezi
Sat 24 Apr. 2010, 03:20 CAT

THE Ministry of Agriculture has warned farmers in North Western Province against selling their agriculture produce to briefcase businessmen who are offering exploitative prices but instead sell to the Food Reserve agency (FRA).

During the Zambian government and United National High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) organised field day in Meheba yesterday, sitting-in provincial agricultural coordinator Edward Sakuwaha urged farmers to be careful when selling their produce to avoid selling at lower exploitative prices such as exchanging their produce for cheap items like cooking oil, kapenta, second hand clothes or chitenge materials.

Sakuwaha added that apart from selling their produce to FRA as the marketing season starts next month with maize and cassava, farmers could also sell to other business organisations offering competitive prices to enable them to increase income and household food security.

Sakuwaha said the government had continued to support programmes aimed at increasing productivity especially with a programme like Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), which provides the subsidised agro-inputs which had been extended even to refugee communities like Meheba as well.

He confirmed that over 11 cooperative societies or farmer groups with a total beneficiary of over 664 had benefited from the scheme and had scaled up production for the past farming season.

Sakuwaha said Meheba Refugee Camp had potentially remained unexploited after that major repatriation which took place in 1983 until 2007 when another project was initiated.

“The UNHCR funded project in partnership with MACO has been undertaking crop production, livestock, fish farming and environmental protection activities since it was revived in 2007,” said Sakuwaha.

Meanwhile, Meheba refugee resettlement farmers have hailed the support they were receiving from the project and urged UNHCR and the ministry to continue with the programme so that more farmers could benefit.

Kuwahili women’s club secretary Ireen Kayombo expressed happiness on the way their clubs have benefited from their activities especially with marketing, saying Lumwana Mine was the nearby place where some of their products were sold.

Another farmer who is also a teacher at Meheba Secondary School, Steward Bwembya, thanked the ministry and UNHCR for the support the school had received through the banana plantation they had at the institution.

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