More than 10,000 farmers in Central province risk losing their farm produce to agro dealers because the government has not activated their e-voucher cards in spite of them paying the required K400 cooperative membership fees. At a countrywide scale the number could even be bigger!
After a prolonged conflict with government for not being able to access the agro inputs even after they paid the monies, the farmers were directed to some agro dealers in January and authorised to collect the inputs with assurance that the cards will be activated at the end of January.
But to the agro dealers’ surprise up to date the cards which were initially assured through United Bank of Africa – UBA still remain inactive thereby making the dealers annoyed and threatening to grab the produce from the farmers in return of their inputs.
The irate farmers, scared of losing their produce stormed the office of Kabwe district commissioner Dominic Mulenga and were assured that the cards would be reactivated by Monday today but still they have not been activated. Provincial permanent secretary and Edgar Lungu’s dirt errands boy Chanda Kabwe who calmed the situation has since been avoiding the irate farmers.
Some sources who spoke to the Watchdog by phone said that if government does not activate the cards and should dealers move in to confiscate their produce, they will be left with no option but to burn the provincial administration offices. Under Lungu, agriculture has been a mess and there are no assurances of improving the sector.