Some beneficiaries of the 2016/17 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) have expressed dissatisfaction with the way coupons for redeeming inputs have been managed. They claim that in some cases they have had to share one 50 kilogramme (kg) bag of fertiliser.
In random interviews, some of the beneficiaries The Nation interviewed claimed sharing one bag among four farmers.
They feared the development will negatively affect their yields this year as the fertiliser they shared during the distribution exercise will not meet the quantity needed for their crops.
Angelina Bindiza of Group Village Head Gomani in Traditional Authority (T/A) Likoswe in Chiradzulu District is one of the beneficiaries who shared a single bag of fertiliser with three others.
She said the arrangement was bizarre and it was the first time she experienced it since the introduction of Fisp in 2005.
Her sentiments were corroborated by another beneficiary, Mike Rodrick, who also shared one bag of fertiliser with three other beneficiaries.
He said: “This time around the distribution exercise has crippled us. This one bag that we shared among the four of us will not do us any good. It is the same as getting nothing at all.”
But Fisp deputy national coordinator Osborne Tsoka, in an interview yesterday, said his office was not aware of the development.
He said the secretariat planning is based on the total number of beneficiaries.
“We know the number of beneficiaries and our target is one beneficiary, one bag of fertiliser each and not sharing two or more,” said Tsoka.
He added that Fisp seeks to maximise output; hence, they cannot produce less coupons against the number of beneficiaries.
But Agriculture Committee of Parliament chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the committee is aware of the situation as narrated by Bindiza and Rodrick.
In an interview, he said that in the wake of the developments, the committee requested for a meeting with Fisp officials.
Malunga said the developments are a setback to the agriculture sector as the country benefits a lot from farming.
This season, government has reduced the number of beneficiaries from 1.5 million to 900 000 following a K17 billion slash in the budget allocation to K43 billion in the 2015/2016 financial year. n