Delayed FRA payments irk Mkushi farmers

Farmers in Mkushi District have bemoaned delayed payments by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for maize transactions of the current crop marketing season.

One farmer, Golden Musonko of Kakumo Cooperative, said farmers had expected to be paid within two weeks after delivering their maize in early July.

Mr Musonko complained that five weeks had lapsed since farmers   delivered their maize, adding that the FRA had not paid any of them.

Another Farmer, William Njelekwa of Milimo Cooperative, described the situation as worrisome, saying the farmers needed the money to prepare for the next farming season.

Mr Njelekwa appealed to Government to help speed up the payments owed to the farmers.

In response to the farmers concerns, Mkushi District Commissioner (DC), Luka Mwamba, assured that Government was doing everything possible to facilitate quick payments.

Mr Mwamba said he had received an assurance from the provincial FRA office that farmers would soon be paid.

He also said maize supplied by the farmers had exceeded the FRA target of 11, 500 metric tonnes (230,000 by 50 kg bags).

Mr Mwamba said the situation had resulted in the shortage of grain packing bags, adding that more bags were expected to be brought in by FRA.

And in reference to the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), Mr Mwamba disclosed that the District was earmarked to receive 35,588 bags of D-compound fertilizer.

He said 34,188 bags of urea fertilizer would be allocated alongside 17,094 maize seed, as well as 28 metric tonnes of ground nut seed. He added that the FISP inputs were expected to be delivered to the district soon.