The Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga gave the promise at the weekend when speaking to members of Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS) in Kalambo district during his one-day official visit in Rukwa region.
The payments will involve farmers in Mwimbi division within four wards – Mambwe Kenya, Ulumi, Mkombo and Mwazye and arose from 622.69 tons of maize bought by Muzia Amcos that was given agency status by the government to purchase crops from farmers on August 8 2017 on understanding that of paying them within three weeks from the date of weighing, but were not paid until now.
He said: “Since the case is in the courts the government cannot interfere and instead as we still wait for the completion of the case I direct the three institutions in my ministry to contribute money to pay the farmers.”
He said the institutions include the ministry itself for failing to address the issue in time, Cooperative Development Commission as supervisors of the cooperative unions, who also failed to address the issue; and finally the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).
Hasunga said since the fifth-phase government will afford to let down its wananchi, it has come out to the rescue the farmers.
He said the government has decided to pay the farmers their money so that they continue with their farming activities and when the case is completed it will get its money back.
He directed the assistant Registrar of Cooperative in Rukwa region to prepare the list of the farmers to be paid and to ensure no ghost names on the list.
On his part, the Rukwa Regional Commissioner Joachim Wangabo has congratulated the minister for the decision to pay the farmers their money as it will ensure they continue with their farming activities.
He said from the decision of the ministry other legal steps including legal action against the RCU officials will continue.
Earlier, reading a statement about the issue the Muzia Amcos secretary Geofrey Mbati said in addition to the farmers complaints he thanked the office of the Regional Commissioner for close cooperation during the duration of whole saga.
He said many of the farmers had appealed to the government to assist in getting their money as they were in great financial difficulties including paying of school fees for their children.