ZNFU media liaison officer Calvin Kaleyi says a lot of farmers this year will only plant enough maize for domestic consumption following the year-in year-out delays by government to pay them for what they supply to the Food Reserve Agency.

Kaleyi said, in an interview, that maize had become a political crop hence farmers would resort to growing other crops.

“From the congress last week you could tell that a number of farmers have not been paid. Some farmers had sold their crops to the Food Reserve Agency just the first week when FRA entered the maize market, some of them to-date have not been paid and that has been our worry. One, the price is not very good, two the delay, its becoming very difficult for farmers to plan for the 2017/2018 farming season because money is little but it should have come in fast. It should have been paid early so that farmers can plan even with little resources. Now without even the little resources, it becomes very difficult for farmers to plan,” Kaleyi said.

“I can assure you that with the pricing and then also the delayed payments, it will be very difficult for farmers to get into planting the maize all over again. Yes they are going to plant maize but most of them are going to plant just enough to feed themselves and do other things, do other crops. That is the mood amongst farmers, they want to do other things other than maize because maize has proved to be burdensome, it has proved to be very political.”

He said it had become a trend for farmers not to get their money on time.

“This has been our cry year-in year-out that the payment come in quiet late. Last year some farmers were getting paid some time in January and this time around the rainy season is almost starting. There are already delays in activating their E-voucher. This, compounded with the late payment, it becomes very difficult for people to conduct agriculture, how are they going to conduct agriculture if they are not being paid? asked Kaleyi.

“Farmers are just tired of this, actually they were expecting good pricing because some of them experienced army worms, some of them had to experience red locust, they had to spray and replant and then the price crashes to K60. So it beats the whole purpose of planting this crop. So a lot of farmers are going to plant something else other than maize. The maize that they are going to plant is just for consumption for themselves.”