Agricultural Technical and Professional Staff Union of Zambia (ATPSUZ) acting General Secretary Hacholi Makondo says its members should not be blamed for the ineffective implementation of the e-voucher system.
And Makondo said his union was greatly disturbed to learn that some farmers who sold their maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) only received their payments this month.
Speaking at a press briefing in Kabwe, Monday, Makondo said the union had received disturbing reports where some of its members especially field staff and those directly involved in the e-voucher system have been paraded before the farmers by senior government officials and law makers to explain why the farmers have not received the inputs on time.
He said it waS unacceptable to heap the blame on Agriculture Extension Officers for the failure by the Treasurer to release the required funds for the e-voucher cards to be activated.
“We urge the Secretary to the Cabinet and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture to sensitise these senior government officials and law makers on the operations of the e-voucher system and the challenges involved. The union strongly condemns the embarrassment and treatment that our members have been subjected to. We want government to put an end to this. We as a union stand by our members because we know they have done their part and so have the farmers. It is the Ministry of Finance that should now release the required funds for the e-voucher cards to be activated,” Makondo said.
And Makondo said his union was greatly disturbed to learn that some farmers who sold their maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) only received their payments for their produce this month.
“We have noted with disappointment that some farmers who sold their maize to the FRA in the previous farming season, only received their payment this month. This has negatively affected the farmers’ ability to purchase inputs for this farming season. Consequently, productivity in the agriculture sector is affected and our members are judged based on this. We have, of course, enquired from FRA why the delay to pay the farmers and they have told us that there is nothing they can do because they can only effect payment when Central Government has released funds. We urge government to review the crop marketing strategy through timely release of funds so that farmers are not disadvantaged,” said Makondo.