President Edgar Lungu has appealed to Financial Institutions to relax repayment mode for farmers who have loans because they are also been negatively affected by various challenges.
President Lungu said financial institutions should help reduce pressure on farmers because they are going through a tough season characterised by numerous challenges.
The President said his administration is aware that farmers are struggling to meet their obligation to financial institutions which has led to some of them to default on loans.
“I wish to appeal to financial institutions to relax pressure on farmers. I am aware that farmers are struggling to meet their obligations with the banks because of the challenges they are facing,” President Lungu said.
He said government is striving to address the water and electricity challenges the farming community is facing not only in Mkushi but across the country.
“We expect the power challenge to be over once the 760 megawatt Kafue Lower power plant is completed by the end of this year. The farming community need adequate electricity and water in order to produce,” he said.
The Head of State was speaking when he launched the National Wheat Harvest at Chobe Agrivision Farm in Mkushi farming block in Central Province.
He said wheat is a strategic crop which needs to be supported to ensure that farmers increase farm hectarage and if well supported, can contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product by through exports.
Speaking earlier, Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga thanked the President for flagging off the 2020/2021 season seed distribution earlier last month.
Mr Mushanga said Central Province produces 50 percent of the country’s cereals and ranks top in agricultural productions.
The Minister said with the construction of Momboshi Dam, the country will in near future stop depending on rain fed agriculture.
He said government in Central Province is set to bring about 2, 106 hectares of land under irrigation following the construction of the dams.
Speaking earlier, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) Javis Zimba said the 2020 farming season has been challenging to all farmers.
Mr Zimba appealed to government to come to the aid of farmers by resolving the water challenge and other challenges.
“WARMA and ZEMA have caused a lot of problems to farmers because they penalize those drilling borehole including simple ones. As you may be aware, water has been a challenge in Mkushi here,” the ZNFU president stated.
The ZNFU leader also called on the government through the Food Reserve Agency to revise the purchasing process of maize so that farmers can release their maize to the agency.
He said government can only manage to meet the 1 million metric tons of maize target if the buying price is adjusted upward.
And in his remarks, Minister of Agriculture Michael Latambo said the Food Reserve Agency will manage to purchase the targeted 1 million metric tons of maize at the price of K110 per 50kg bag of maize.
Mr Katambo said government consulted all stakeholders when coming up with the purchasing price for maize and wondered why the farmers union had started opposing the move.
He said farmer are supplying maize to Government and getting their money instantly which he said is good for farmers.
And Mkushi Farms Association Chairperson Dereck Nicolle said the coming of the President to the farms shows that farmers of the Mkushi are doing things right.
Mr Nicolle informed the President that farming activities in Mkushi is at the verge of collapse due to the numerous challenges affecting farmers during this season.
“Agriculture in Mkushi is in deep trouble, we are crying. But we are confident that the government will listen. Commercial farmers will have job losses. We are in trouble from the banks as most farmers defaulted on loans due to financial crisis. We as farmers are at the verge of collapse,” he said.
Mr Nicolle told the President that Mkushi is also facing water scarcity which has affected both the small scale and commercial farmers.
He appealed to government to help the province with water dams like they have done by constructing Momboshi dam and others in different provinces.
He said government can also invest in water canals to drive water from Luapula to Mkushi where water is desperately needed.
He noted that for farming activities to be sustained in the province, there is need to have irrigation systems that can only be done if water is available.
Earlier President Lungu was taken to a field visit of the Avocado plantation at Cropit Farm within Mkushi.