Head of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Malawi, Jen Marshall, has commended the Malawi Government for instituting reforms that would make the Farm Input Subsidy Program (Fisp) more efficient and effective.
However, Marshall, speaking during the 2014/15 FISP Evaluation Dissemination Workshop in Lilongwe today, said government needs to do more on reforms including in the transparency and efficiency of procurement and in the timeliness of payments.
Said Marshall; “These reforms should help create fiscal space for government to prioritise other important areas for Malawi’s agricultural development and wider inclusive growth.
“The reforms are a step in the right direction, and we look forward to further discussion on some of the technical efficiency issues that have been raised repeatedly by the evidence, such as productivity, who is benefiting and exiting from the scheme to reach the most deserving productive poor farmers, and how to encourage greater diversification away from maize.”
Marshall then called on stakeholders to carefully implement the 2015/16 Fisp for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Last week, Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza announced that each farmer will have to contribute K3500 ($7) per bag of fertilizer, up from K500 in the 2015/16 growing season.
A 5kgs bag of maize seed will now be sold at K1000 ($2) from K150 in the previous years while legumes are no longer for free as farmers will have to pay K500. About 1.5 million farmers are expected to benefit from the program in the 2015/16 season.
Dfid funded the assessment which was conducted by the School for Oriental African Studies (SOAS) and Wadonda, a local consulting firm. Professor Ephraim Chirwa led the team.
It is expected that the dissemination workshop will help stakeholders learn from the 2014/15 Fisp evidence, in order to improve implementation, monitoring and accountability of the program in the 2015/16 growing season.
In 2005/6 the Government of Malawi introduced Fisp, a large scale national programme subsidising agricultural inputs, mainly fertilisers and seeds for maize production.