STORIES of crooked agro dealers trapping farmers in all manner and style, have become a common feature.
Unscrupulous agro dealers have suddenly have taken the spotlight and typically engaging in mischievous activities to defraud hard working farmers.
Some of the districts where farmers have been defrauded by dubious agro dealers, include Muchinga and more recently in Eastern Province, Chadiza district to be specific, where farmers are being forced to redeem items which they do not want, at inflated prices.
In Isoka, some agro dealers were reportedly selling farmers expired and underweight fertilizer.
In Chadiza, farmers have complained against some agro-dealers who are forcing them to get certain items against their will just to exhaust the money that government has given them through the agriculture support programmes.
One of the affected farmers, Milika Phiri of Kampeni village, says that some agro-dealers have without ignominy, gone into the habit of forcing them to get unwanted items against their will.
Ms. Phiri has complained that instead of just getting seeds and fertilizer, a named agro-dealer forced her to get items such as tips for ploughs, gum boots and chemicals which she has no use for.
It is obvious that these agro dealers are taking advantage of these poor villagers through crookedness to make a quick buck or two.
Government should not just watch while poor farmers are being swindled in broad day light.
These are farmers who are working hard not only to put food on the table for the nation and their families, but also better their lot including educating their children.
Government should institute investigations throughout the country to ensure that any agent that has defrauded farmers could be brought to book.
Zambia has already decided to make agriculture one of her mainstays of the economy and should not allow unscrupulous agro agents to derail the nation.
The contribution of small scale farmers to the national food security cannot be over emphasized.
It is economic sabotage for anyone to engage in acts that are inimical to the development of the country.
That is why we are urging government to take action now than later.
Weed out the bad lot from the agricultural sector.