GOVERNMENT has no money to pay small scale farmers for the maize supplied to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and has directed the agency to source for over two trillion Kwacha from the money market.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Luxon Kazabu said that government had allocated K300 billion Kwacha towards the 2012-2013 marketing season which had already been exhausted by the agency.
“We had allocated K300 billion towards the purchase of maize in the budget but as you know we need to purchase over 1 million metric tones of maize but again we have run out of funds. So what we have done is that we have directed FRA to go and source for the money on the money market and government will guarantee the loan,” he said.
He revealed that government had already approached Finance Bank and another Bank for the loan facility of about K2.1 trillion.
“The shortfall is what FRA is looking for from the money market and we are pushing the agency to get that. We hope that by next week things will be ok, farmers will be assured of getting their money. We have already approached Finance Bank and what the lending institution is waiting for is security bond or guarantee to be assured by government,” he said.
He said that his ministry was putting pressure on FRA to secure the guarantee through government in order to have the funds released.
But Kalomo Central UPND Member of Parliament Request Muntanga has urged the PF government to be sincere in the way they were handling issues of the money meant to pay small scale farmers for supplying maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in the 2012-2013 marketing season.
Mr. Muntanga urged PF government to be sincere and stop issuing conflicting statements in the manner they were handling payments of peasant farmers.
The Parliamentary Committee chairperson on Agriculture and Livestock said that it was surprising that government was making different pronouncements with respect to the funds allocated towards the purchase of maize when they knew that the budget had only allocated K300 billion.
“This money has even been exhausted, there is no more money to purchase or pay small scale farmers for the maize FRA collected. And that is why the Ministry of Finance should come out in the open and state whether it will help to find the money to pay farmers or not,” he said.
He said there was need for the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Emmanuel Chenda to tell the nation the truth over the status quo or the payment of small scale farmers.
Mr. Muntanga said the government should with immediately effect issue a clear directive with regards to the money needed to clear the backlog of farmers who have not yet paid.
“It is embarrassing to see conflicting statements come from Ministers in this government, just a few weeks ago the Minister of Agriculture Emmanuel Chenda banned the export of maize as a result of maize deficit in the country. This was also done out of public pressure when the mealie meal prices went up.
They assured the nation that we have enough but look after a few days after they ban exports they concede that there was a maize deficit in the nation.
But these same people have again within a second week said that they are not going to ban the exports but will only centralize the exports. This time around they are now changing that government has enough money to pay farmers when just last week government urged FRA to borrow the money from banks and pay farmers for the surplus maize it collected. So where have they gotten the money from? They need to tell the nation because this hide and seek kind of governance was not helping the people of Zambia at all cost,” said Mr. Muntanga.