THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will this marketing season start paying farmers through personal bank accounts.
FRA spokesperson Mwamba Siame said the Agency has since embarked on a countrywide sensitization programme to create awareness of the need for small scale farmers to have a personal bank account.
She said the electronic payments through farmers’ accounts will get rid of the long waiting hours of farmers at paying points and enable farmers to access their money at their own convenience from almost any part of the country.
“The move will also reduce the risk of the farmer losing cash through thefts. The farmer will also have access to the banks’ other services and products,” she said.
Ms Siame said eligible banks were being encouraged to carry out their marketing sensitization well to ensure that farmers were carried on board.
The participating banks are ZANACO, Access, Standard Chartered, Investrust, NATSAVE, Finance, Barclays, Banc ABC, Indo-Zambia, Stanbic and Cavmont Banks.
Ms Siame encouraged small scale farmers based in villages, chiefdoms, rural farm blocks and settlements who wished to sell their maize or rice to FRA to open bank accounts with financial institutions, as the bank details would be required at the time of supplying their crop.
Ms Siame said the Agency would not deal with any farmer who would not provide details of their personal bank account.
Since its establishment, the Agency has been paying farmers over the counter for crops supplied.
“This has been subjecting farmers to long periods before they could be paid. The system also posed high transaction costs to both the Agency and the banks in handling physical cash,” she said.
She said FRA would this year target genuine small scale farmers who would be subjected to rigorous scrutiny and registration in operational depots with full involvement of village headmen and chiefs.
Ms Siame said the Agency would release the registration guidelines and other crop modalities soon.