The United Party for National Development (UPND) leadership in Lundazi district are following up reports alleging that some Food Reserve Agency (FRA) depot officers are frustrating the ongoing crop marketing exercise.
It is alleged that some officers at specific FRA depots are allegedly selling empty grain bags to briefcase businessmen denying eligible farmers, who have been spending nights at the depots, chance to sell their grain to the agency.
The reports came to light when UPND Provincial Information and publicity Secretary Godfrey Mapili visited Muchelika and Kalaba buying depots in Lundazi District to check on how the maize buying exercise is going.
At Muchileka FRA depot, farmers complained that last week the depot received 750 empty grain bags but only 500 empty grain bags were given to farmers.
The farmers alleged that 250 bags were sold to a named businessman who is also selling maize to FRA at the same depot.
“Over 16,000 x 50 Kilogram of maize grain is stack outside this depot for over 2 weeks. We are now panicking because our maize might get soaked by rains which the district has already started experiencing,” the same farmers told Mr Mapili.
And Ireen Nyirenda another farmer has pleaded with government to quickly intervene by allowing farmers to sell the maize in their own bags to FRA as they wait for the empty bags to be sent.
Mrs Nyirenda who has been spending nights at the depot to guard her grain stated that many farmers are counting losses as their maize might get soaked.
This week Lundazi received 10,000 empty grain bags out of the 88,000 bags required for farmers to repack their maize before FRA can purchase it.
The UPND Information and Publicity Secretary, who has been going around depots to check on the maize buying exercise, expressed fears that over 78,000 x 50 kilogram bags of maize in excess might go to worst if additional empty grain bags are not dispatched to the district urgently.
Meanwhile, Mr Mapili has assured farmers that the UPND leadership will get to the bottom of the allegations concerning depot agents selling empty grain bags to briefcase maize dealers.
“We are investigating these reports and if it is true the officers found wanting will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” he said.
He also assured farmers that the UPND Government will ensure that all the maize that is stack at depots is bought before it goes to worst.