CALL FOR INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE OPERATIONS OF THE ZAMBIA NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK’S LIMA PROGRAM
The Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) has over past two agriculture growing seasons been running a LIMA Program. This program includes a “Crop Insurance” against floods and drought. Individual farmers applying for loan under the LIMA program paid the crop insurance money which ZANACO paid a particular insurance firm they engaged to provide crop insurance.
The Zambia National Farmers Union in the southern region covering Monze-Pemba area and some farmers that have previously been involved in the LIMA program including some for the 2011/2012 season revealed that farmers have been paying crop insurance funds without receiving the professional crop insurance services at farm level. It was further revealed that no insurance firm personnel had ever visited the region over the last two years on crop insurance matters and doubted whether any was going to do so under the 2011/2012 season.
The operation of the program equally leaves much to be desired. The farmers had not received their inputs by 2nd December, 2011 and doubted whether they would and plant by 15th December the end of the planting window for maize. Some farmers regretted having applied as they said were losing yield with every further delay in the planting window and hence was defeating the purpose of a loan.
The program where poor smallholder farmers are persuaded to pay money for a professional crop insurance service and money is paid but no service is provided should not be encouraged as it is a fraudulent and corrupt act. Our farmers need protection from men and women including institutions introducing fraudulent agricultural programs that were wasting farmers’ time and milking them of their money only to make their own huge profits in interest.
Zanaco’ sincerity in the LIMA program on the farmers’ side raises much doubt because in April, 2011 they were advised the program need agrometeorological consultancy services to make it viable but disregarded and went ahead. Our farmers’ agriculture productivity including their LIMA program requires tailored weather and climatic information and services but Zanaco disagrees.
The Zambia Agrometeorological Research and Climatic Information Dissemination Centre (ZARCIDC) on 3rd December, 2011 wrote Zanaco to justify its program and operations considering the concerns discovered in the Monze and Pemba areas but have not bothered to reply to date.
Their non response has now led to the call for a detailed investigation into their Lima and similar programs by the Anticorruption Commission and Police. The government is also urged to take keen interest because such programs and operations only frustrate its agriculture development efforts and may result in people’s dissatisfaction with it when they see their livelihood being affected. This matter has since been reported to the Anticorruption Commission for further investigations.
Dr. Durton. H. Nanja