AgricultureLocal News

Farmers warn Govt

By BENNIE MUNDANDO and MUYANI SHINJABALE
GOVERNMENT must not give Food Reserve Agency (FRA) maize to any miller who is not part of the tripartite agreement, failure to which we will pull out of the deal because some millers are becoming manipulative, the Zambia Farmers Union (ZNFU) has warned.
The tripartite agreement involves Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ), Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) and the FRA.
Speaking to the Daily Nation yesterday, ZNFU president Jervis Zimba said calls to FRA to give maize to millers on the Copperbelt under the pretext that there was a commodity shortage were irresponsible and baseless and that the union has had enough of such tricks.
“The tripartite agreement works in such a way that millers must buy maize from the farmers before getting the commodity from FRA. Right now, there is no shortage of maize because we have produced over 135, 000 metric tonnes under the early maize programme.
“We have the maize and we can supply all the millers on the Copperbelt even now and some of these selfish and heartless millers know that all the contracts were finalized four days ago. This is why they want to push Government to release the maize from FRA so that they don’t buy from farmers.
“They are creating panic to arm-twist Government to release the maize for them but it is irresponsible for any miller to continue getting cheap maize from FRA which is our strategic national reserve. The union is aware that FRA doesn’t have enough in its reserves and is also under stress because of the number of people affected by floods across the country and are in need of relief food through the DMMU,” Mr. Zimba said.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture had done a fantastic job but that some dissidents among millers were jeopardizing and sabotaging the sector by spoiling well-intentioned initiatives.
“President Edgar Lungu and the ministry of Agriculture gave us a challenge to produce early maize and promised us a ready market. We have produced and the ministry has facilitated for the signing of contracts. Why then should millers hold this country to ransom?
“It is sad that while Government is grappling with floods in some parts of the country and the coronavirus outbreak which has paralysed our economy, we have unpatriotic millers who want to exacerbate the situation by milking Government even further. This monkey business must come to an end immediately,” he said.
Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Development Affairs Hibeene Mwiinga said the FRA would avail the maize to millers on the Copperbelt who were under the tripartite agreement.

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