MMD National Secretary Raphael Nakacinda has called on the Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya to quickly sort out the challenges in the agriculture sector.
And some small scale farmers in Serenje and Mkushi Districts have described Agriculture Minister as a flop who should be taken to a different Ministry as she has failed to sort out the mess in the sector.
Speaking when he featured on Mkushi Radio Mr Nakacinda said the Minister should show the seriousness that the problems being faced by small scale farmers deserve.
He said farmers cannot be complaining on the same challenges every year when the President has appointed a Minister to sort out the challenges.
He said ensuring that the country has a functioning agriculture sector is the only way of uplifting people’s lives as most of the country’s population depend on the sector.
Meanwhile farmers in the province said the Minister should be replaced as the current minister had failed to deal with their challenges.
The farmers who contributed to the radio program via phone said the mess in the sector needed someone who appreciated the challenges in the sector something Siliya seems to be oblivious to.
They complained that they are still waiting for their money on their produce supplied to government last year.
A caller from Kapiri Everisto Mwenshi said even the e-voucher is a mess that continues to further confuse small scale farmers who still do not understand how to use it.
He said in his cooperative of 15 members only one person has been approved to recieve inputs adding that the challenges are not only in the district but in all the districts in the province.
He also said the Provincial Minister was segregating in his developmental projects as he was favouring the areas where his party was strong while neglecting opposition strong holds.
And another caller Mable Mwaba who also complained about the late payment of farmers as well as delivery of farming inputs said the area Members of Parliament where not helping as they were not talking on their behalf.
She said current MPs were now passengers at parliament buildings and eating chicken and chips when they should be the voices of the people who sent them to Lusaka to represent them.
In response Mr Nakacinda said voters should also start taking responsibility for their actions.
He said voters in some areas rejected people who had committed to working for them and opted to bring in people who just wanted allowances hence should not blame anyone but themselves.
He gave an example of Sydney Chisanga who was rejected in Mkushi South even when he was the best candidate after working with the people for two terms.
He said it was high time voters started scrutinizing candidates based on ability and put in competent individuals saying certain complaints will be a thing of the past.
The team has since left for Kapiri where they are suppose to hold party meetings with the district executive before proceeding to Kabwe.
And The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction in Eastern province has called on President Edgar Lungu to declare the 2017/2018 farmer input distribution exercise through the e-voucher system as a national disaster without any further delays.
CSPR Eastern Province Coordinator Maxson Nkhoma has noted with disappointment that the current happenings in the agriculture sector do not reflect any sign of government’s commitment towards walking the talk on economic diversification as alluded to by the President in his address to Parliament in October 2017.
Mr Nkhoma recalled that the head of state is on record when he addressed Parliament to have said that his government was going to diversify the economy from mining dependence to the agriculture sector by increasing government support towards the sector.
Mr Nkhoma said that CSPR is particularly concerned that the government has not started the distribution of farming inputs to farmers as of today, 12th December, 2017 a month after the rains had started, and when the Minister of Agriculture had addressed Parliament and indicated that the farming inputs distribution would start by 15th October, 2017.
Mr Nkhoma said that the delay in the distribution of farming inputs to farmers is a worse disaster when compared to army worms which can be easily eliminated using pesticides.
Mr Nkhoma stated that in view of numerous cries and complaints from the farmers over delayed farming inputs and late payment by the Food Reserve Agency, it has become increasingly very important for the President to address the nation and declare the 2017/2018 farmer input distribution exercise a national disaster so that emergency farmer rescue interventions can be explored.
Meanwhile, Some farmers in Shiwang’andu District in Muchinga Province have complained that the failure by the Food Reserve Agency to pay them their money has greatly affected their preparedness for this farming season.
The farmers have complained that since they delivered their maize to the FRA in August, they have not received anything from the agency.
One of the farmers Josephine Mumbi said that she cannot make her K400 counterpart contribution towards the e-voucher card because she have not been paid for the maize she supplied to the FRA.
Ms Mumbi said that she survives through farming and wonders if she will effectively participate in this farming season.
Another farmer Beatrice Nanyangwe of Mulanga village said that hunger is looming in the area because of the failure by the government to pay them.
And Grace Nyondo said that what the FRA has done is de-campaign President Edgar Lungu as it is showing that the government lacks seriousness in addressing issues affecting farmers in rural areas.
Grace Chileshe, a widow in Kalanguluka Village, said that she is at pains to see how the farmers are being treated by the government over their hard earned money.
The farmers have since appealed to President Lungu to intervene in the matter.