Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) coupons for the Southern Region and part of Northern and Central regions have finally been brought into the country after missing three deadlines.
The coupons were airlifted from United Kingdom (UK) where they had been printed to South Africa enroute to Malawi, according to officials.
The arrival means that the private sector, which has been awarded almost 60 percent of this year’s programme from the 33 percent it handled last year, can now begin to dispatch the fertiliser and seed to warehouses nationwide.
In an interview at the weekend, Fisp deputy coordinator Osborne Tsoka confirmed that the first batch of coupons were in the country and that dispatch will be immediate.
He said: “This is a big consignment. It is almost two tonnes and required a big flight which comes through on Sundays only. The flight number is SA0170. The coupons are for the Southern Region districts, but include Mchinji for Central Region and Chitipa for Northern Region.”
Tsoka further said government would start dispatching the coupons by Tuesday and that the next consignment for the rest of the districts is expected to be dispatched from UK on November 29.
But Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) executive director Tamani Nkhono described the whole situation as disappointing.
He said: “I have not heard of any news of them arriving, but to be honest, the whole situation is disappointing. This is almost December and people have not accessed the inputs. The question is, what have we been doing the whole of this year for us to be panicking now?”
This year’s Fisp has undergone a major review that will, among others, see the public sector only managing 40 percent through State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund (SFFRFM) while the private sector will handle the 60 percent.n