FARMERS who do not belong to co-operatives will not share the profits made through the first three solar-powered hammer mills although they are at liberty to take their produce for grinding, says agriculture minister Given Lubinda.
The first three of 2,000 solar-powered hammer mills arrived in Zambia early this month as part of the African nation’s Presidential Milling Initiative (PMI).
The hammer mills are expected to help reduce the price of mealie-meal and create over 3,000 jobs for Zambians, including services related to maintaining the equipment.
The first three mills will be going to Kasama in Zambia’s northern district, Chongwe in Lusaka and Solwezi in north western provinces.
More than 200 of the hammer mills should be in the country by the end of October, in total, the mill purchases will cost around US$200 million.
Mr Lubinda in an interview said farmers had to belong to a co-operative if they wanted to share the profit which would be made out of the solar-powered hammer mills.
“The point is that the ownership of the solar mills will be through the co-operatives, Government will give those solar power hammered mills to co-operatives then co-operatives will run and manage them,” he said.
He however said any person was at liberty to take their produce for grinding at the plant.
“Any person is free to go and have their merchandise grind at the plants so it’s not only for the benefits of the co-operator but also for everybody but the ownership is the one that will be returned by the co-operative,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said it did not matter whether or not one belonged to a co-operative; they are free to take their produce to be grinded at the plant, only that they would not participate in sharing the profit if they were not members of a co-operative.
“If you are a member, it will mean that even when they make profit you will share it together with members and the co-operator,” he said.