SINDA district commissioner Paradious Sakala has blamed Investrust Bank Plc for the delay to pay farmers who sold their maize to the Food Reserve Agency in last year’s crop marketing exercise.
Farmers in Sinda district on Saturday stormed the district commissioner’s office demanding payments for the maize supplied to the FRA.
However, Sakala said the problem was not with the government but the bank.
“I am not happy with the way Investrust Bank is treating the farmers. It’s like this is when Investrust Bank employees are learning what to do because they are not working according to our expectations. A farmer cannot distinguish between Investrust Bank and government, so the blame goes to the government yet it’s their failure as a bank,” Sakala, who was in support of the farmers’ protest, said.
“In future, such banks should not be entertained in small districts like ours. Last time, government used Zambia Postal Services and it did a good job though there were some long queues due to shortage of manpower but they were able to clear farmers on time and not what Investrust Bank is doing.”
He said it was also sad that the bank was underpaying the farmers without giving them proper explanations.
“For example, I have seen a farmer who is owed K20, 000 by FRA being given K15, 000. When a farmer asks why he is underpaid, no proper explanation is given. Farmers are blaming the government and this is not good because the bank is painting government black. The bank is destroying the image of the government. There is need for the bank to take this issue seriously,” said Sakala.
And Maxwell Banda, a farmer, said FRA had failed them.
“We decided to go to the DC’s office because Investtrust employees who were supposed to give us the money on Saturday did not come. They claimed that all the cashiers were sick and told the PS that the vehicle they were using had broken down,” said Banda.
Meanwhile, district agriculture committee chairperson Masauso Zulu supported the farmers’ protest saying there was need for FRA to pay them.
Zulu said farmers had failed to take their children to school because government was holding on to their money.
Zulu also thanked Sakala for addressing the farmers maturely.
Local Investrust Bank representatives refused to comment on the matter and referred all queries to their head office in Lusaka.