Government has been challenged to quickly address issues that were likely to affect this years farming season in order to avoid having a negative impact of production.
Former agricultural minister Dr Eustacio Kazonga said the delay in distribution of farming inputs by government was not good for farmers as the rain season has already started.
Dr Kazonga said seed and basal dressing fertilizer must be distributed to farmers across the country immediately because with the on set of the rains it would be difficult for government to access some of the problems due to poor road network.
He advised that government should also address the issue of non payment to farmers by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for the maize supplied to government.
The former agricultural minister said there was no clear explanation from government on whether the monies to pay the farmers have been released because most of the farmers in his constituency (Vubwi) have not yet been paid.
“It is a pity that government is talking about the monies to pay the farmers and its being announced inLusakawhen in actual fact farmers in most rural parts of the country have not yet received their dues.
“Both farmers that have opened accounts with the banks and those without bank accounts are affected by the delay by FRA to pay their dues.
“It is worse for the farmers that are in Chadiza because they only have a bank on Wednesdays only. This will adversely affect production figures because farmers have no money to buy farming inputs and other farming equipments,” Dr Kazonga said.
He described as unfortunate government’s decision to give farmers one pack of inputs which would allow farmers to have maize only for consumption and not for sell.
Dr Kazonga also challenged government to explain why some parts of the country were experiencing mealie meal shortages when there was a bumper harvest.
He said it was sad that Zambians were queuing for the staple food when government had promised to put all measures in place.
“It is very unfortunate that people are made to buy mealie meal at K60, 000 for no reason given that government said they had enough reserves for the nation.
“We know that the country had enough stocks but why are they blaming the crisis on the opposition when government has the power to manage the millers and supply maize to them.
“I advise government to quickly distribute the farming inputs to farmers so that this season becomes more productive.
Also let them pay farmers on time so as to enable them buy inputs when government delays in delivering,” he advised.