Members of parliament sitting on Agriculture committee of Parliament were shocked on Wednesday when they learnt that government diverted K5 billion which the House approved to buy maize was diverted to buy pigeon peas (Nandolo).
State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) general manager Margaret Roka Mauwa left tongues wagging when she said Admarc had already bought 500 metric tonnes of Nandolo when smallholder peasant farmers are complaining that Admarc officials are turning them away due to lack of money.
However, Mauwa insisted Admarc has bought the Nandolo from smallholder subsistence farmers.
“This program was meant to bail out smallholder farmers who lacked market,” she said, adding that Admarc will in turn sell the nandolo to public hospitals and schools at no profit.
She ruled out the notion that rich, influential and powerful businessmen are benefitting a lot from the scheme than the smallholder peasant farmers themselves.
Principal secretary in the ministry of Trade and Industry Ken Ndala said apart from the K5 billion maize allocation, government was also using the Unforeseen Circumstances vote money to buy nandolo.
He said at least 20, 000 metric tonnes of nandolo is expected to be bought by Admarc this year.
However, chairperson of the committee Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the committee is suspicious, saying the scheme might benefit a few powerful people.
He said committee members will soon be visiting Admarc depots for first-hand information on the Nandolo buying scheme.