KALOBWE BWALYA writes
PARAMOUNT Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province has warned that he will not entertain small-scale buyers in his chiefdom because they are promoting theft.
Chief Mpezeni said that some people claiming to be farmers were stealing maize from other people’s fields, which they were selling to briefcase buyers.
He said the ‘briefcase’ buyers were allegedly stealing from farmers because they were asking them to sell maize at low prices instead to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) floor price.
Speaking when Neria’s Investment general manager Martin Chaikatisha called on him yesterday, Chief Mpezeni, however, said also farmers had collected their inputs early and had fair harvests, but FRA delayed paying them for their produce.
He said Eastern Province, especially his chiefdom, received good rainfall.
The chief said heavy rains had, however, washed away fertiliser from the fields.
Chief Mpezeni hoped that Government would this year again start the distribution of fertiliser through Neria’s Investments early.
He said in the last farming season the farmers who are beneficiaries of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), had not experienced any challenges in the collection of fertiliser.
Chief Mpezeni said he would not allow such situation to continue, but to ensure that farmers were prevented from being swindled.
“Some fake farmers were stealing maize from other people’s fields and selling it because they were attracted by briefcase buyers who were pursuing them with money.
Therefore, I am appealing to Government to quickly start the distribution of fertiliser so that farmers can plant early. Last season, due to continuous rains, fertiliser was washed away from the fields,” Chief Mpezeni said.
And Chief Mpezeni has appealed to politicians to desist from politics of hatred and name-calling.
He said some politicians had continued practising politics of violence among innocent citizens.
And Neria’s Investments general manager Martin Chaikatisha hopes the farmers will be paid early this year by FRA so that they can deposit their money early.
Mr Chaikatisha said once the farmers were paid early, it would enable them to collect the inputs and plant early so that they had a bumper crop.
Meanwhile, Chipata district agriculture coordinator Philemon Lungu has urged farmers to buy certified seed.
Mr Lungu said some agro dealers were selling recycled seeds to farmers and that had contributed to poor crop yields.