Lufwanyama UPND member of parliament Leonard Fungulwe says farmers in his constituency, who deposited their down payment of K400 into their e-voucher system, have still not been supplied with their inputs.
In an interview, Fungulwe revealed that even the transporters, who were contracted to deliver the inputs on behalf of government to the farmers, are nowhere to be seen due to the outstanding arrears owed by the Ministry of Agriculture.
He, therefore, appealed to have the transporters’ arrears paid to enable speedy delivery of farming inputs now that the rainy season is underway.
“I would like to appeal to the people of Lufwanyama, more especially the farmers, that this FISP (Farmer Input Support Programme) exercise has been a challenge all along and I received a call this morning concerning the same that farmers have deposited their monies into the accounts, [but] the transporters who were engaged to transport the same farming inputs to various stations are not on-site, except one out of eight transporters! Now, I am told these other transporters have a challenge, they are complaining to say the government hasn’t given them the down-payment so that they can carry out the exercise,” Fungulwe explained.
He appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture to expedite payments to transporters to alleviate farmers’ suffering.
“You know, we are in the rainy season, we are in December, and farmers should be busy planting. Now, we are saying the pro-poor government, where is pro-poor here when it is ignoring the welfare of the farmers? So, my appeal to the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, can the government pay these transporters so that they can start transporting the farming inputs to the farmers. Actually, even yesterday, I was receiving calls from the affected farmers that: ‘Honourable MP, can you talk on our behalf concerning FRA’ you know this PF government, they say they buy [maize from farmers but] to me, buying is not there. They borrow and what they borrow, up to now, they have not paid back the farmers! So, farmers are affected, and they need to use the same money to purchase the farming inputs from this season, but now, the government is holding onto their monies. So, my appeal to FRA is that can they pay the farmers on time so that the farmers can plan well for the next season,” appealed Fungulwe.