SINDA District Agricultural Committee chairperson Laiva Zulu has challenged government to come up with good crop prices if farmers are to sell their produce to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) during the forthcoming marketing season.

In an interview, Zulu revealed that what compelled farmers to sell their crops to briefcase buyers was because government offered lower prices, coupled with the usual delays in paying them.

Zulu, therefore, suggested that the FRA should prepare to buy maize at attractive prices to incentivise farmers in offloading their produce to the Agency ahead of this year’s crop marketing season.

The FRA set last year’s maize purchase price at K110 per 50Kg bag, an increase of K40 from the 2018 crop marketing season.

“…As you plan for FRA, think of us, and when you think of us, you will see that farmers won’t rush to sell the produce to briefcase buyers. What chases farmers away to briefcase buyers from the FRA market is the price and government’s delay to pay farmers. Not only that, briefcase buyers take advantage when the government waits for moisture content. We are appealing to government to consider us with a compassionate view. We ask government to sit down and make proper arrangements for farmers, and if things work out for the benefit of a farmer, then a farmer won’t fail to take their crops to FRA,” Zulu said.

He, however, described briefcase buyers as “thieves who steal from farmers” using their dubious means.

“This year, government gave us inputs in good time and the rainfall pattern was okay. I, therefore, warn farmers that please, please, let’s not rush to sell our produce to briefcase buyers. Briefcase buyers just cover our faces so that they steal from us. Let’s be wise and vigilant, let’s put our hearts at ease….let’s ensure we sell our crops to the FRA because it is our ginnery where we get help when we are in problems. Let’s not take everything to briefcase buyers; these are after business and they don’t mind about our hunger,” said Zulu, who also called on traditional leaders to deal with farmers that sold their crop fields because they undermined food security.