Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stop exploiting peasants over moisture content, body implores FRA

Stop exploiting peasants over moisture content, body implores FRA
By Florence Bupe
Thu 15 July 2010, 04:40 CAT

NATIONAL Association for Peasant and Small Scale Farmers of Zambia president Rogers Phiri has said the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) should not use moisture content in maize grain as an excuse to get higher quantities of the commodity at K65,000.

Phiri was reacting to complaints by some farmers who say they are made to package 51 kilogrammes of maize delivered to FRA for purchase instead of the stipulated 50 kilogrammes.

The farmers explained that they had been directed to package an extra kilogramme of grain because the weight was likely to decline once the maize has lost more moisture. Phiri said the issue of high moisture content was unfounded during this time of the year as most of the grain had already lost moisture to the required level.

“The moisture content in maize is not an issue now, it has gone down and that claim is unfounded. The extra one kilogramme which is being claimed is a lot of maize, and farmers are losing money by supplying more than the value of money they’ll get from the agency,” he said.
And Phiri has implored government to strengthen payment systems to farmers supplying maize to FRA. He complained that most peasant and small-scale farmers were faced with challenges resulting from delayed payment of money for grain supplied to the agency.

“We are appealing to government to quickly release money to pay farmers for the produce they have supplied to FRA. The agency is mainly dependent on government grants, and if government delays in releasing money, farmers are unable to secure material for their next farming season” said Phiri.

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