The government says all farmers that are supplying maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will be paid their money at an appropriate time.
Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo Phiri explained that FRA is now buying the surplus maize outside the initial budget. The FRA has already met the 500,000 metric tonnes for strategic national reserves which was earlier budgeted for.
Mr. Phiri emphasised that the delay in the purchase of maize has been necessitated by lack of grain bags, a thing he said is being addressed steadily.
He pointed out that over 470,000 empty FRA grain bags are being dispatched to different parts of the country to cushion the deficit.
The Minister of Agriculture, who is also Chipata Central Member of Parliament, said all the farmers who sold the maize earlier and those currently selling to the FRA will be paid.
“All famers will be paid at an appropriate time because currently we are buying maize out of the budget having attained the national target. FRA has even resumed the purchase of the maize and I will discuss with FRA if they can use ordinary bags from the farmers,” he explained.
The Minister of Agriculture made the remarks in parliament today when responding to a question from Kanchibiya Member of Parliament Sunday Chanda.
Mr. Chanda wanted to know when the Food Reserve Agency will pay famers in Kanchibiya constituency and other parts of the country for the maize supplied during the 2021 marketing season, what the cause of the delay in paying the farmers is, and whether the delayed payment will not affect preparations for the 2021/2022 farming season.
And Kasama Central Member of Parliament Sibongile Mwamba asked the Minister of Agriculture about who will bear the cost for the maize that have been soaked by rains as it awaits purchase.
In response, the Agriculture Minister explained that farmers should dry the soaked maize before selling it to the agency.
Mr. Phiri pointed out that FRA only takes responsibility for the maize it has already bought.
He has since urged farmers to sell to other buyers owing to the fact that FRA will only buy an additional over 300,000 metric tonnes to add to the 500,000 metric tonnes that has already been purchased.
Mr. Phiri pointed out that the delay by FRA to pay farmers will not affect farmers during the forthcoming farming season because most of them are under the Farmer Input Support Programme which has already received attention from the government.