MORE than 212 farmers have had their cassava swept away after the operational gates at Zesco’s Musonda Falls power station in Mansa were opened on Monday evening.
Peasant farmers that lost substantial amounts of their harvest are demanding compensation from Zesco as the firm had allegedly neglected informing the surrounding population of its intent to open the spill gates.
Zesco is currently upgrading the Musonda Falls power station from a six to an eleven mega watt plant and has engaged a contractor to carry out the works.
It was the contractor while working on the upgrade works that opened the spill gates located on Luongo River which resulted in the area downstream to flood and sweep away the cassava that was drying on river bank.
Luapula Province Permanent Secretary Boniface Chimbwali, who confirmed the incident and visited the site, said the provincial administration office would engage Zesco to resolve the dispute.
“The complaint from the farmers is that gates were opened at night and they were not given prior warning of what was to happen. Otherwise they would have secured their produce, Mr Chimbwali said.
Meanwhile, Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in Luapula Province is just 10,000 tonnes shy of reaching the target of maize seed to be bought this marketing season.
Luapula Permanent Secretary Boniface Chimbwali said the province had been tasked to buy 50,000 tonnes as part of the 500,000 tonnes the agency is buying as strategic reserves.
Though the province is not particularly known for its framing prowess, maize cultivation in particular has been steadily increasing the past two farming seasons.
While the target for the province would be reached soon, there was still a lot of grain being delivered by farmers on a daily and chances where likely that the target would be reached for the province minus the entire delivered crops sitting at various depots being bought.