Malawi President Joyce Banda has announced the introduction of a parallel Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) to benefit farmers that do not access the government sponsored programme.
Fisp which was launched in the 2005/6 farming season by late president Bingu wa Mutharika is credited with increased maize production in the country.
Malawi Government in the 2012/13 budget allocated K57 billion (about $143m) for the purchase of 155 000 metric tons of fertilisers which was distributed to 1.54 million beneficiaries.
On Sunday, Banda indicated that her parallel programme will benefit unidentified number people who will access the parallel Fisp as a loan.
Presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane did not have details of the programme.
Malawi’s Minister of Information, who is also the government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu said details of the announced programme will be known to the public in due course.
“But it encourages farmers to borrow. It will operate as a revolving fund,” he said.
The implementation of Fisp has dilemmas that arise with higher fertiliser prices and the implementation of many of these efficiency measures also has significant implications for the political and agro-ecological sustainability of the programme.
The Fisp was an important and high profile contributor to the late Mutharika’s and his Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) success in 2009 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (PPE). Political pressures to expand the programme and to use it for patronage were evident in the run up to the election.
Last month, Mutharika’s brother, Peter, who is gunning to lead the DPP in the 2014 elections said if voted into power next year he will reduce further the price of subsidized fertiliser. The price of subsidised fertiliser is currently sold at K500 (about $1.25) per 50kg bag.
Recently, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Felix Jumbe in an interview described the remarks as cheap economic policy.
“Farmers are not interested in Fisp and I mean farmers not safety nets beneficiaries who should be handled under the Ministry of Social Welfare,” said Jumbe.
Jumbe said the Fisp should be considered as a safety net and not as an investment into agriculture production which is sustainable as opposed to safety nets.