The National Union for Small Scale Farmers in Zambia (NUSFAZ) has said that while the release of funding to pay farmers for the previous farming season is commendable, late disbursement of the money has negatively affected them this season and maybe a contributing factor to reduced yields this year.
NUSFAZ Executive Director Ebony Lolozhi, who recently predicted that Zambia will this farming season fall short of a bumper harvest due to the unfavorable rainfall pattern among other factors, says the payment period is late for farmers to use it towards logistics and needs for the current advanced farming season.
Mr. Lolozhi has suggested that the government pays farmers by November of each year, right before farmers begin to plant, especially that the maize marketing season runs between July and October annually.
He argues that late release of funding to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to pay farmers will always affect them negatively as it is difficult to sustain their business without the money and is urging the government to pay on time.
Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo on Wednesday said that the outstanding K640m for payment to farmers who supplied maize to Food Reserve Agency –FRA- during the 2020/2021 farming season is available and will soon be released after another K960m was released this week and channeled to all the provinces, weeks into the current farming season.
Meanwhile, Kalumbila district Farmers Association Chairperson, Nsubula Hachipabeenda, has welcomed the move by government to release funds to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to facilitate payments to farmers who supplied maize to the agency during the 2020/2021 marketing season.
Speaking to ZANIS in Kalumbila, Mr Hachipabeenda said the move by government is a positive one.
“Government has made a positive move, we have been on several platforms urging government to release the money to help FRA to pay the farmers on time and now that we have been heard, we are very happy,” he said.
Mr Hachipabeenda explained that although it appears that the farmers are receiving the money late, the funds will go a long way in this year’s farming exercise.
“The farmers are affected of course like we have indicated several times but it is a good move, better late than never,” he said.
And Mr Hachipabeenda added that it has been a challenge to communicate to farmers in the district due to lack of a community radio station.
“We have a challenge, we do not have a radio station, it is very difficult to inform our stakeholders on things that are happening and that is why we have cried for such a facility in our district”, he said.
Mr Hachipabeenda noted that in order to ensure that information reaches the intended audience, various stakeholders, several government officers who include camp officers, block officers and health personnel are engaged to help disseminate the information.
He also confirmed receiving calls from farmers who reside in far-flung areas, who wanted to confirm if it is true that funds have been released by government to FRA.
“I have received calls from farmers in far areas to confirm if what they have heard is true, meaning that word is going round,” Mr Hachipabeenda said.
He said farmers may start going to the bank starting today because that is when they are getting the message clearly.
The new Dawn Government budget starts 1st January 2022, only then will money be released, will fertilizer be distributed, will the rains start, will hospitals have drugs etc
It was rains not the money
Farmers are never affected by late release of funds because they are even used to that since funds have never come on time for the past number of years. They always have a plan B. The only things that affects farmers is natural disasters such as drought and pests.
The only places that got funds on time are southern and western or upnd strongholds. We warned you
No….you ransacked the coffers to zero hence the delays.
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