Monday, March 10, 2014

Govt hails private maize buyers
By David Chongo in Mwinilunga
Fri 06 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE government has described as positive the role played by the private sector in providing farmers with alternative market for their maize produce other than through the Food Reserve Agency only.

And agriculture permanent secretary Dr David Shamulenge has assured transporters of farming inputs in Mwinilunga that charge rates for distribution of inputs would be increased to cushion their costs after several of them boycotted the exercise, demanding better terms.

Dr Shamulenge noted that private buyers had made tremendous contributions toward reducing wastage of stock by providing farmers with options to sell their produce beside FRA.

He said in recent years, maize stock had been wasted because farmers solely depended on FRA for standardised markets.

He noted that since milling firms started purchasing from farmers directly, the government had seen remarkable stock uptake.

Dr Shamulenge confirmed when he inspected progress of the Farmer Input Support Programme at various locations in Mwinilunga on Tuesday that transporters were not coming forward to distribute the inputs at the current rate of K0.60 per bag per kilometre, preferring instead the 2012/2013 rate at K1.50.

He said the transporters' concern that many distribution routes were not cost-effective with the current rate was genuine.

Dr Shamulenge said the government wanted inputs to reach farmers without further delays and, therefore, would award the transporters the preferred rates on specific routes.

Mwinilunga district marketing development officer Emmanuel Ndonyo said despite only seven out of 17 transporters detailed for the exercise working, 13,425 bags of D compound fertiliser out of 18,110 received as well as a combined total of 6,681 seeds of the 9,000, maize, 600 rice and 400 groundnut 10kg seed packs had been disbursed to farmers.

Dr Shamulenge, who was accompanied by acting North Western acting provincial agricultural coordinator Derrick Simukanzye, urged Ndonyo to encourage transporters to resume the exercise with the change in rates and ensure that farmers quickly access the inputs.

And Simukanzye said Mwinilunga was the only district in the province to have beaten its target of purchasing maize stock totalling 109,000 50kg bags.

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