While president Michael Sata and his wife have shared K1.4 billion (retirement house) and K1.5 billion (office of first lady) each, over 300 small scale farmers in Kapiri Mposhi district have threatened to camp at the District Commissioners (DC) office if they are not paid the money for the maize they sold to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
The farmers who thronged the DCs office as early as 06:00 hours today have also demanded that the government gives them back their bags of maize which they supplied to the FRA.
The demand for none payment of their agriculture produce from famers across the country also comes at a time the PF administration is deliberately pushing for costly bye-elections.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Damiano Haaninga complained that it was too much of government issuing promissory statements to farmers on a daily basis.
Mr. Haaninga stated that the payments to farmers have been deferred on several occasions despite government emphasizing that it had released the money to pay all of them before 20th November 2012.
The farmers have been frequenting both ZANACO and Barclays Banks for some time now but have been finding that there is no money in the Banks as both Banks have run out of money meant for paying the farmers.
“But what is this of government releasing money and then we are not paid because there is no money in the bank is the government lying to us’’ he said.
Mr. Haaninga said the farmers are in desperate need of their money because they want to procure inputs for the coming farming season stating that delayed payments will negatively affect the crop yield for the 2012/2013 farming season.
“It is very unfortunate that this is happening when we are in dire need of money to prepare for next season… they need to tell us the truth so that we look elsewhere,” Mr. Haaninga said.
Mr. Haaninga said the farmers are owed between K40 Million and K3 million each for the maize they supplied to the FRA.
But District Commissioner Beatrice Sikazwe has appealed to the farmers to remain patient as they wait to be paid their money.
Ms. Sikazwe who apologized for the delay in payments said the government will soon remit the remaining money to pay all the farmers in the district.
Government has so far paid out over K22, 8 billion to farmers who sold maize to the FRA in Kapiri Mposhi district leaving the balance of at least K14, 4 billion to fully pay the farmers in the area.
The FRA collected 572,094 by 50Kg bags of white maize from farmers in the district worth slightly over K37 billion.
Meanwhile, The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has appealed on government to give on credit subsidized farming inputs to small scale farmers who have not been paid by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for the maize they supplied to the Agency to enable them have farming inputs for the current farming season.
Speaking in an interview with ZANIS in Kitwe today, ZNFU President Jervis Zimba said the farmers should be made to pay when they receive their money.
Mr Zimba said farmers rely on the money they get from FRA for them to buy inputs and the delay in paying them would mean that they will be left out on the government subsidized inputs under the Farmer Inputs Support Programme (FISP).
Mr Zimba noted that if the unpaid farmers fail to buy inputs, the next year’s harvest will drastically drop as a lot of farmers will be affected.
And the ZNFU president has challenged government to tell the truth on why farmers in various parts of the country have not been paid.
He argued that the union had information that FRA has not deposited all the money for payment of the farmers yet government is claiming to have released money for all farmers to be paid.
He also challenged government to categorically state the banks that have failed to release the payments to the farmers despite having been given the money.
Farmers mainly on the Copperbelt have been complaining over non payment by the FRA for the maize they supplied to the agency.
But government has on several occasions strongly stated that it has already deposited all the money needed for all the farmers countrywide