By Bennie Mundando
THE Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has been left fuming after Minister of Agriculture, Michael Katambo, lied to President Edgar Lungu that the hiccups surrounding early maize which should have been supplied around April and May this year have been resolved, when not.
On September 18, 2020, at the launch of the 2020 wheat harvest, in Mkushi at Agrivision, ZNFU president Jervis Zimba complained to President Lungu that that early maize farmers have incurred huge losses because the tripartite agreement signed with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was not executed in full.
Mr. Zimba said as a result of the failure to resolve the matter, it would be difficult for Government in future to convince farmers to grow early maize to cushion the country’s food security.
In his defense, Mr. Katambo said the matter had been resolved and that the ministry had written to ZNFU Executive Director Ellah Chembe and the Grain chairperson to that effect and expressed ignorance over Mr. Zimba’s complaint.
However, it has now been established that Mr. Katambo lied to both the Head of State and the farmers that the matter has been resolved as no letter from the ministry has been written to the union to resolve the outstanding issues surrounding early maize marketing.
In a letter dated September 21, 2020 which was signed by Ms. Chembe and addressed to Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, the union is wondering to who the said letter was delivered, as it was not in receipt of any such communication from the ministry.
The union said despite following up with the PS on the proposal made in August over the matter, nothing had come to fruition and that it was taken aback that the picture created by Mr. Katambo that the matter had been resolved had put the union under pressure from farmers due to this misrepresentation of facts.
“This serves to inform you that this communication has not arrived to date. As you are aware, the union has been following up with your good office to establish the way forward on the proposal which you presented to the farmers on August 19, 2020 and condensed in our letter of august 21, 2020 after consulting the farmers.
“However, we have not received feedback from you and through our phone conversations, you have assured us that you were still seeking authority before a draft agreement could be shared with farmers. Against this background, kindly clarify to us the minister’s statement and avail us a copy of the letter which was referred to at the wheat harvest event,” reads the letter in part.