Dundumwezi farmers salute FRA over quick pay

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FARMERS in Dundumwezi constituency of Kalomo district have praised the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for paying them early for the maize supplied in the ongoing crop marketing season.
Meanwhile, FRA is worried that farmers selling their maize to briefcase buyers are making a loss because traders are using scales that are not asized to legal standards.
On Monday this week, FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula met Dundumwezi farmers at Kasukwe agriculture camp area where they expressed happiness with new system of paying them early for the maize.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Pride Malambo said that the way the FRA was managing its payment system this year was encouraging.
“If only FRA can continue to buy maize like this then many more people will start selling their maize to FRA as opposed to briefcase buyers.
“There are a lot of disadvantages when you supply to these private buyers because they tamper with their scales such that when you weigh the bags they don’t give an accurate weight,” Mr Malambo said.
Mr Malambo said despite knowing that the private buyers had tampered with their scales, some farmers had continued to sell their maize because of financial pressure. “Some have school going children and in trying to meet the cost of educating them, they end up supplying their maize to private buyers though they know that they are being cheated,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Kafwabulula told journalists that it was unfortunate that some farmers were selling their maize to private buyers without checking if their scales were properly calibrated or not.
He said the farmers would think they were selling 50 kilogram bags and yet they were about more than 60 or 70 kilogrammes.
Mr Kafwabulula said the farmers had been misled that private buyers were offering a better price but ultimately they were losing 10 or 20 kilogrammes from each bag.
“They will be able to sell a lot of maize but they will not to get better financially. It is extremely important that when maize is sold the scale being used is properly calibrated by the Zambia Meteorology Agency.
“Our farmers need to be protected by whoever is representing them to ensure scales are properly calibrated. It doesn’t matter even if they choose not to sell to FRA but as Zambians we don’t want them to lose from their sweat,” Mr Kafwabulula said.
He said this when he inspected the maize purchase exercise at Dimbwe, Kanchele, and Kasikili sheds in Kalomo district of Southern province.
-DAILY NATION

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