The Zambia National Farmers’ Union farmers says farmers have lost thousands of Kwacha as tonnes of their fresh produce had gone bad due to lack of sales since government shut down Soweto Market.

In a statement Wednesday, ZNFU president Jervis Zimba asked government to set up a wholesale market space exclusive to farmers that would enable them to sell their fresh produce from 06:00 hours to 14:00 hours to avoid further losses.

“The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) wishes to commend Government for the bold gesture it has taken to rid the Lusaka City of dirt and closing of Soweto Market after the outbreak of cholera that has claimed many lives. This shows that Government means well to addressing issues that concern the citizenry’s health and wellbeing. The closure of Soweto Market, while unquestionably well intended, has impacted negatively on farmers whose livelihoods depend on daily sales of fresh produce on this platform,” he stated. 
“Farmers have lost thousands of Kwachas as tonnes of fresh produce (tomatoes, vegetables and fruits) has gone bad due to lack of sales. The alternative market at Chinika Primary School, while serving as a temporary outlet, is too small to accommodate the hundreds of tonnes of produce from farmers. It is from this back ground that ZNFU is urging government, through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, that once Soweto market is cleaned and becomes operational, it should set up a wholesale market space exclusive to farmers, where farmers would trade from 06:00 hours to 14:00 hours, then close for cleaning in readiness for trading day the following day.”

Zimba proposed that such a market would be run by farmers and traders would buy from wholesalers to re-trade in their designated places. 
“Such a market would be run by farmers, and traders will buy from wholesalers to go and re-trade in their designated places. This will create organised markets and structures where farmers would conduct wholesale trade and make direct contributions to the national resource envelope through market levies, as currently this is being done through middlemen. As a short-term measure, the ZNFU is also calling on Government to find a much bigger and sanitation friendly trading place that would accommodate the volumes of fresh produce farmers are landing on the market every day to avoid further losses. And we urge farmers to observe cleanliness as they offload the produce on the market,” stated Zimba.

“Government must buy-off all the plots west of Soweto Market up to the ring road that leads to Puma Filling Station, and also revisit north of Soweto where there is non-operational company sitting on over 10 acres of land. Government could then build well organised trading market structures with good sanitation systems accommodating different categories of traders. This would be the best way to resolve the disorganized trading systems. The ZNFU mourns with the nation and families that have lost loved ones to cholera.”