The Ministry of Agriculture has cited the lack of financial institutions and inadequate local transporters as among the challenges that are affecting the smooth implementation of the farmer input support programme (FISP) in Milenge, Luapula Province.

Milenge District agricultural co-ordinator Aibu Muimui said the absence of financial institutions in the district is detrimental to the growth of the farming industry.

This is contained in a Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) weekly brief availed to the media recently.

Mr Muimui said small-scale farmers have to travel to the neighbouring district of Samfya to access banking facilities and make deposits for inputs thereby, incurring high transportation costs and other related expenses.

“The non-availability of well-established banking services has also not spared the Ministry of Agriculture staff that are forced to set up a temporar operational base in Samfya during the period to facilitate farmers’ deposits for inputs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Government has commended the Diaconia project being implemented by Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) for constructing storage facilities.

The Diaconia project is building storage facilities in chief Kalindawalo’s area in Petauke and has facilitated the formation of a company called Chakulya Grain Company.

Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu said Government is happy to witness churches such as RCZ positively contributing to the growth of the agriculture sector among others.

Mr Zulu said the support goes a long way in assisting small -scale farmers to reduce the post- harvest losses which they have been experiencing due to lack of proper secured storage facilities at household level .

“The farmers will have an opportunity to access the inputs without wasting money on transport because the storage sheds will as well act as a trading centre for the input suppliers,” he said in a speech read for him by Chadiza district commissioner George Phiri.

Mr Zulu has, however, cautioned farmers to guard the facility jealously and use it for the intended purpose.