A farmer of Chipata district has observed that what has killed most farmers in the country is the over dependency syndrome, where they expect too many handouts from government.

And a businessman, Idous Mosali, has urged government to pay farmers better prices for their produce.

The two were part of the audience at a public discussion forum organised by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Breeze FM radio and News Diggers! in Chipata, Friday, under the topic ‘Plight of a farmer Vs government’s response; FISP, E-voucher Vs maize floor price’.

Bridget Chirwa, a farmer and teacher noted that most farmers in Zambia depended too much on handouts from government.

“What has killed us as farmers in Zambia is dependency syndrome. We depend so much on the handouts, ‘what is government going to give us, what is this organisation going to give us in order for us to put food on the table’? We are unable to use our hands and work. How are we going to survive as farmers and citizens? We just have to think outside the box,” she said.

Chirwa urged farmers to think of new income generating methods of farming beyond maize growing, saying farming was supposed to be a business.

“Now that maize is not making sense to most of us farmers, what else can we do that should be an income generating event? This is what we have to think of even as we go into the field. Because farming is supposed to be a business. If you feel you are being used and you realise that you are being used, then change. Change the business, change the type of crop you grow. You can rare chickens. Let’s think beyond maize growing,” she said.

And Chirwa said the e-voucher had failed because corporative leaders were selfish.

Meanwhile, businessman Idous Mosali urged government to pay farmers better.

“The Food Reserve Agency needs to be revisited. They should make sure that they know the costing from a commercial farmer. That is the price that they must pay the farmers that have taken FISP or whatever help it is. 54 years of independence, the people in the villages have been working on the land for so many years and getting nothing for it. I think its now time that a farmer is given a better price. Government should pay the farmers well so that they can overcome this dependency of subsidized fertilizer, waiting in the queue, sleeping at the bus stop,” said Mosali.