Donors have said they will this year not support the seed component of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) over concerns about mismanagement of funds during last year’s growing season.
This means that the Malawi Government will have to raise about K2.9 billion ($5.2 million) to fill the gap before this year’s growing season starts at the onset of rains in two months’ time.
Speaking in an interview with The Nation in Lilongwe this week, Nikolas Bosscher, chairperson of the donor coordinating committee on agriculture under the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Programme (ASWAp) Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), said government was forewarned about the implications of “front loading” the following year’s funds.
He said: “This year’s planned contribution of K2.9 billion [$5.2 million] to the Farm Input Subsidy Programme from the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Programme Multi Donor Trust Fund which includes DfID [Department for International Development], European Union [EU], the Flanders [Belgium], Irish Aid, Norway, USAid and the World Bank has already been used by the Government of Malawi during the 2014/15 Fisp season.”
Bosscher said the agreement to fund seed was for three years.
However, all is not lost as Bosscher said this year, the donors will pump in K1 billion for printing and delivery of secured Fisp coupons, electronic vouchers, monitoring and evaluation of Fisp’s implementation, electronic tracking of fertiliser deliveries, quality testing of the distributed seeds and support to the logistics unit.
He said: “The Government of Malawi and the ASWAp MDTF donors agreed in 2013 on a three-year support plan for Fisp, notably for 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16. Upon request of the government [of Malawi] to help closing last year’s Fisp budget gap, the planned contribution of $5.2 million for the Fisp season 2015/2016 was advanced in 2014.
“This contribution came on top of the planned support of $12 million for the 2014/2015 season. Therefore, the donor total contribution for last year’s Fisp season amounted to $17.2 million.”
When asked if donors would have a change of heart if government asked for reprogramming, Bosscher said: “Making available extra funds for Fisp means that DPs [development partners] will have to reprogramme the resources available in a country.
“If reprogramming is possible, we have to verify very well which investments will yield the best results considering both the short-term needs versus the long-term sustainable development objectives.”
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza confirmed the front-loading of funds and said it was for a good cause because a lot needed to be done in the seed sector.
He, however, wondered why the donors communicated to the media before relaying the information to his office.
Said the minister: “Why have they told you? As government, we have not made a decision on the way forward and have not begun discussions around that. So, how is it that you know? [Nonetheless], there is nothing to panic because we will find a solution to this. Let me stress that there is nothing to panic [about].”
This year’s Fisp will see its1.5 million beneficiaries contributing K8 500 for both seed and fertiliser inputs. Government has also removed the vulnerable groups as beneficiaries in this year’s programme.