ZNFU president Jervis Zimba has urged President Edgar Lungu to scrutinise the people he has entrusted the agricultural sector with, saying they have been misleading him.

And Zimba says the PF government has turned agriculture into a risky business.

Speaking to News Diggers in an interview yesterday, Zimba said the Zambia National Farmers Union was worried about how the 2017/18 farming season would be pro farmers since the season was almost ending and some farmers had still not been paid.

“The e-voucher for this season is extremely worrisome because there are a lot of delays in paying farmers this season. If you look at the one million targeted farmers to be supported on the e-voucher and calculate, how will it be possible for 38 thousand farmers to be accessing everyday for 26 days? And mind you, anything after 26 December means that the season is over. Or if we put it within December, how practical is it that we will be able to deal with 13 thousand farmers in a day?” Zimba wondered.

“We are really skeptical about this all thing and then we also have to remember that farmers also face some challenges as they deposit because some people can not swipe the cards due to faults and others don’t even know how to swipe. So this whole thing has just been done too late. Our concern is that yes we may manage to get to the one million target but we are very skeptical if we will get to the target because of also these delayed payments of FRA. This is not okay at all and if you remember the last time I talked about this I actually said that FRA is swindling farmers and they threatened to take me to Court but these are the things we were talking about where they promise to pay you every two weeks and they paid a bit but have you seen now from July, those who collected in July now look if you calculate from July to date, you can see that for them to clear the bill, its taking them almost five months.”

Zimba said agriculture had now become a risk business and wondered how farmers would be able to survive under the conditions that government had subjected them to.

“How do the farmers survive? And the complications of these things are that if you supply today like say in August or September and you are not paid then you keep borrowing from people telling them that you would pay them when FRA pays you but by the time you get that money from FRA, the farmers would have no money due to debts. So farming now is complicated and it’s a risk business. It’s actually a very sad status of affairs and to me actually what has happened in the total agriculture for this 2016/17 season is total economic sabotage to the whole country,” said Zimba.

“I think the people who advise the President of those figures have been found wanting and they should be brought to book because they have caused economic sabotage to the country. It’s really an economic sabotage if you look at it and because of this economic sabotage which has happened, for us to pick up and begin to appreciate agriculture it will take us another three to four seasons. So we would appeal to the President to take action on the people who have caused this economic sabotage because the traders have gone back and 30 per cent of our farmers are under threat to the banks. The agribusiness, the tractor companies are going back and after this season by August we expect to see some lay offs in some farms and in the agribusiness sector. We are urging the President that those misleading him must be brought to book because to repair the damage now it will be huge.”