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Farmers to be paid by end of this year – Simuusa

Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Wylbur Simuusa (right) next to Minister of Labour Fackson Shamenda in Parliament.

LINDA NYONDO, TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has released K40 million to clear part of the outstanding payment to the farmers who sold their maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Wylbur Simuusa said Government will clear the outstanding K900 million payment to the farmers by the end of this month.
“The farmers should not panic.  We are mobilising funds, and between now and the month end, the farmers will be paid all their money,” he said.
Mr Simuusa said in an interview in Lusaka during the week that close to K500 million has been paid to the farmers and that the outstanding balance will be paid soon.
He said he has been engaging the Minister of Finance for the release of the money to FRA weekly to meet the month end deadline.
Mr Simuusa said Government gave itself the target of clearing all outstanding payments to farmers by the end of November because the farming season has started.
He said the delay in clearing the payments is due to the fact that Government bought more than it had initially targeted.
“Government initially planned to buy 500,000 metric tonnes of maize, but due to overwhelming response from farmers, Government ended up buying 1,031,000 metric tonnes of maize,” Mr Simuusa said.
He said Government decided to buy more than the targeted 500,000 metric tonnes to help the farmers who have contributed to the bumper harvest.
Mr Simuusa said the farmers should be calm because despite delays by Government to release money to FRA, farm inputs have already been distributed.
And UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has called on government to immediately pay farmers who supplied maize to FRA.
Mr Hichilema said his party is deeply concerned that many farmers are yet to be paid.
“UPND is aware that almost 50 percent of farmers who supplied maize to FRA in July and August have not yet been paid and have so far failed to buy farming inputs for the 2014/2015 farming season which has already begun with the onset of rains in most parts of the country,” he said.
Mr Hichilema said if farmers are not paid in time, the country might experience low maize production and higher mealie-meal prices next year.

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