KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) says Governmentâ€™s delay to pay some farmers that supplied maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has negatively affected farmers in adequately preparing for the 2014/15 farming season.
ZNFU has since called on Government to expedite the payment of maize sold to the FRA if the country is to continue recording a maize bumper harvest.
In a statement availed to the Daily Mail in Lusaka recently, ZNFU president Evelyn Nguleka said the delayed payment by Government has also hindered farmers to repay loans obtained from commercial banks.
â€œThe delayed payment for maize by Government to small-scale farmers in 2014 has caused cash flow challenges which have made it difficult for farmers to adequately prepare for the 2014/2015 farming season as well as to honour loan repayment obligations with some commercial banks operating in the country. This might affect the production of maize in the next farming season,â€ Dr Nguleka said.
In the 2013/14 farming season, Zambia recorded a maize bumper harvest of about 3.1 million tonnes.
Dr Nguleka said despite the country recording a bumper harvest, the positive development has been masked by the marketing challenges in farmers selling their maize to the FRA.
She said crops mainly sold to the FRA have remained unpaid for right into the new farming season, a factor which is likely to negatively affect not only the production of maize, but also food security in the country.
Dr Nguleka, however, said in a move to help facilitate and enhance the maize market access for small-scale farmers, the union had lobbied Government to lift the maize export ban, which was lifted.
â€œThe union was instrumental in lobbying for the lifting of the maize export ban which was finally done at the start of the marketing season, but, shortly after this decision was made, the export window disappeared as potential markets such as in Zimbabwe discontinued imports to cater for marketing of their own crop,â€ she said.
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka