Agri-business Business

FRA owes farmers K1b, says ZNFU

THE Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) says the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) owes its members about K1 billion.
ZNFU is concerned that FRA has only paid out K400 million to its members who supplied maize to agency, representing 25 percent
Union president Evelyn Nguleka said on Thursday that delays by Government to pay farmers will adversely affect the approval of new loan facilities by commercial banks for the 2014/2015 farming season.
She said it is important to recognise the private sector’s efforts, especially commercial banks in building relationships with small-scale farmers.
Dr Nguleka also said further delays in paying farmers by FRA will destroy the sector and the relationship that has been created with commercial banks.
“The FRA owes the farmers but be aware that farmers owe the banks and because of this, banks have put on hold approvals of new seasonal facilities for the upcoming season,” she said at the just-ended 109th ZNFU annual congress in Lusaka on Wednesday.
Dr Nguleka said Government has equally recognised that the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) cannot meet farmers’ input finance requirements forever but that the private sector should be able to sustain itself.
Dr Nguleka said FRA’s actions have a pronounced effect on many actors in the economy hence should not be viewed in isolation.
She also said that the policy environment on maize marketing has remained unclear and this has made the private sector to become spectators because of conflicting signals in the sector.
Dr Nguleka said farmers and other stakeholders are of the view that exporting agriculture products is the only way of sustaining any expansion in production.

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