Written by Lumbani Nyasulu
Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development has suspended distribution and redeeming of 2018/19 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) coupons.
In a statement signed by the ministry’sPrincipal Secretary Grey Nyandule Phiri said the suspension is with immediate effect.
“Ministry of Agriculture wishes to inform the general public and all stakeholders that it has suspended the 2018-19 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) coupon distribution as well as supplier coupon redemption until further notice.
“This has been done in order to align, reconcile and consolidate the distribution processes in all the districts in tandem with the planned distribution figures,” reads the statement in part.
The Ministry has since advised farmers that companies will not receive any coupons from 7th November 2018 until the alignment exercise is completed.
The development comes after the chiefs said most of those who benefitted were not the targeted poor.
Government embarked on a redesigning exercise of the programme which has seen it engaging councils in identifying beneficiaries instead of chiefs as was the case previously.
But the traditional leaders claimed they have been receiving complaints from villagers on why most of the poorest people were left out with some names of dead people appearing on the list of beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Agriculture has since requested all farmers that have received the FISP coupons and have not accessed the inputs to safely keep them for use when the input outlets reopen for the redemption of the coupons.
According to the statement the Ministry has assured all farmers that are yet to access the coupons and as well as suppliers that the distribution and redemption will resume as soon as possible.
Fisp was introduced in 2005/06 farming season to help achieve household and national food security by subsidising the cost of production.
In the 2017/18 National Budget, government allocated K43.5 billion towards the programme which is expected to benefit about 900 000 smallholder farmers. During the last farming season, K40 billion was allocated to the programme.
On the inputs, government is subsidising NPK and Urea fertilisers 50 kilogrammes (kg) bag with K15 000. It is also subsidising 5kg maize seed with K6 000 and legumes with K2 050.