The United Party for National Development (UPND) is deeply concerned at the failure by the PF Government to pay thousands of farmers who supplied maize to Food Reserve Agency (FRA). We demand that the Government should immediately pay farmers without any further excuses and delay because they have suffered for far too long.
UPND president hakainde Hichilema says he is aware that almost 50 percent of farmers who supplied maize to FRA in July/ August are not yet paid and have so far failed to buy farming inputs for the 2014/2015 farming season which has already begun with the onset of rains in most parts of the country.
‘It is regrettable that the farmers who are now expected to be busy tilling the land are instead spending days and nights at government offices following their payments in vain while the PF is boasting about a bumper harvest which they are failing to pay for. What this means is that the country is most likely going to experience low maize production and higher mealie-meal prices next year, especially if the PF continues in power.
‘We are also aware that children of some unpaid farmers have been chased away from schools for non payment of school fees by their parents. This is traumatising to pupils, more so to parents who have been labouring so hard to fend for their families. It is the duty of every responsible Government to honour its obligations such as paying the hard working farmers who are feeding the entire nation,’ Hichilema said.
He said that the UPND believes in improved agriculture as one of the vehicles for effective elimination of hunger and poverty, as well as improved access to socio-economic amenities through increased disposable income from selling of agricultural products.
‘It is a pity that the PF does not have the capacity to realise that the majority of citizens in rural areas, who constitute the bulk of the people, largely depend on income from selling of agricultural products for most of their basic needs such as education, health and clothing.
‘On behalf of UPND and on my own behalf, I pledge superior economic management, which includes improved agriculture, agro processing which will significantly reduce hunger, poverty and create sustainable jobs respectively among the majority citizens in a country of plenty,’ said Hichilema.
Hichilema said ‘I am therefore appealing to the farming community and the general citizens to give UPND an opportunity to serve this country as you vote during the forthcoming Presidential by-election on 20th January 2015.
‘We can no longer continue to allow a situation where the majority of citizens are wallowing in abject poverty in a country which is well endowed with immense natural resources just because of poor national leadership. A fresh start for Zambia with Real Change’.