Vice President Mutale Nalumango has assured the nation that the government is committed to offsetting the balance owing to farmers who supplied their maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in the 2020-2021 marketing season.
The Vice President reiterated the government’s resolve to ensure that the farmers who supplied their maize to the FRA get their dues in the shortest possible time.
Mrs. Nalumango, has however clarified that the delay to settle the over K1.6 billion has been caused by constraints in the budget, as it was not provided for in the 2021 fiscal year.
“ K1.6 billion is what we owe, and that is not money you can easily find, this budget we are in now did not provide for that, and if there was no provision, that means we have to source money elsewhere and will are really trying and it’s a commitment to pay all our farmers their money, “She explained.
She said despite the agency reaching its target of buying enough maize for the strategic food reserves, a lot of maize was left in various depots, prompting the government to buy the excess which was not budgeted for.
The Vice President added that it is for this reason that the government has asked FRA to start selling and exporting the surplus maize, as soon as the markets are clear, to raise money for paying the outstanding arrears.
She stated that despite government planning for less than what was produced, it’s the authority’s responsibility to provide farmers with the needed market, hence buying the extra grain.
“As a responsible government we are going to mop-up all the maize. We may not have the money to pay now, but we will mop up the maize, “she said.
She has since encouraged parliamentarians to help the government in explaining to farmers in various constituencies, on the challenges being faced, with regards to the purchasing of the maize.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Nalumango has announced that the 2021-2022 Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) input distribution is expected to start by today.
Mrs. Nalumango acknowledged that the exercise has been delayed, due to various modalities that the government had to put in place, in order to make the exercise inclusive for all targeted farmers to benefit.
She observed that the previous system was implemented selectively, noting that farmers from other regions benefited more than others and got more inputs.
“We had a lot of challenges which we found, even though the seed distribution is starting now, we had to work out modalities where a number of things have been done particularly in the area of FISP and on how we will distribute the seed,” she said.
The Vice President was speaking in Parliament today during the Vice President’s question time.