Church and Society Programme, a development arm of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Livingstonia Synod, has added its voice to calls to abolish Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp).
Church and Society’s call during the Pre-Budget Consultations Meeting in Mzuzu on Friday followed similar sentiments expressed by the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) and Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) during the Lilongwe leg of the meetings on Thursday.
Church and Society has since proposed that the funds allocated to Fisp should be injected in priority areas, including the country’s industrialisation.
In his contribution, Church and Society executive director Moses Mkandawire said if Malawi is industrialised, most youths will be employed.
He said: “We have had challenges with Fisp managemen. And we needed at some time to have graduated from the programme.
“Our children will not even remember that we were producing maize because it is for consumption. At that time there will be no evidence.”
Mkandawire proposed that some of the funds meant for Fisp should also be directed towards funding the elderly (especially those aged 80 and above) and meeting the health needs of people with disabilities.
On the other hand, Mkandawire said if government still wants to continue with Fisp, then it should only target those aged above 80 and the disabled; hence, reducing the amount of money that the programme consumes.
However, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo said government plans for more investments in the agriculture sector through irrigation, but needs the help of the private sector.
During the 2017/18 fiscal year, government allocated about K33.15 billion towards Fisp while in 2016/17, the programme was financed to the tune of K33 billion.
In a recent review of the programme, the number of beneficiaries was reduced from about 1.5 million households to 900 000. n