Government through the Ministry of Finance has released K400 million to pay farmers who supplied maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for the 2016/17 farming season.

Agriculture Minister Dora Silya disclosed this in Parliament yesterday when she responded to a question from Chinsali PF member of parliament Kalalwe Mukosa who wanted to know how much government was owing farmers for the maize purchased last season.

“Mr Speaker, the marketing season for the Food Reserve Agency came to an end on 27th October, 2017. The agency purchased 516,863 metric tons of maize valued at K620,235,720 from 603,55 farmers. As of the K 620,235,720, the value of the purchased maize, K103,241,130 has been paid to 14,580 farmers already leaving a balance of K516,994,590. As of today, the Ministry of Finance released K400 million to pay the farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture this afternoon begun moving this money to the FRA for onwards disbursement to the farmers and this will leave a balance of only K117 million which we also expect to pay the farmers in the next few days. Mr Speaker, the delay [in releasing the funds] was caused by Treasury constraints,” Siliya said.

And Siliya said government owed transporters K200 million.

“I think we have worked very hard to ensure that we dismantle the debt owed to transporters. Latest this morning is that we owe transporters is K200 million which is manageable compared to where we are coming from and we will continue to engage the Minister of Finance because in the last few days we have been talking about ensuring that government is ready to counterpart funding for the e-voucher and that government pays farmers for the maize supplied to FRA so that they can also begin to make their contributions and we also dismantle the debt owed to transporters,” Siliya said.

She reiterated that government would support one million farmers on its e-voucher FISP programme this season.

“Mr Speaker, last year under the e-voucher FISP programme only 6,000 where supported by government and the other one million where supported using the conversational FISP but and this year in the 2017/18 farming season, all the one million farmers will be supported using the e-voucher,” said Siliya.