Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development KondwaniNankhumwa yesterday launched the 2019/20 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) with a promise for an organised programme this season.
Speaking during the launch at Migowi Primary School ground in Phalombe, Nankhumwa said distribution of coupons, which started immediately after the launch, will be completed in two weeks.
The rest of the programme, including distribution of farm inputs, is planned to end by December this year.
This year’s programme, which is targeting 900 000 resource-poor farming households, will support farmers to access inputs such as basal and top dressing fertilisers for cereals (maize, rice and sorghum), and legume seed (groundnuts, beans, soya beans, pigeon peas and cowpeas).
According to the minister, government has secured 90 000 metric tonnes (MT) of fertiliser for maize, rice and sorghum; 4 500MT of certified maize seed, 30MT of sorghum seed, 50MT of rice seed and over 900 metric tons of certified legume seed.
Said Nankhumwa: “Government puts food security on top of its development agenda and that is why it introduced the Fisp in the 2005/06 season. This year will be the 15th year running.
“Fisp aims at achieving food self-sufficiency and increasing resource-poor farming households’ income through increased maize and legume production. This year, instead of maize, farmers can even access rice or sorghum seed.”
According to Nankhumwa, the 2019/20 programme is going on well, with beneficiary identification and registration already concluded in all districts.
“All coupons have arrived in the country before first planting rains, unlike in the past when coupons were distributed in November or December. For example, in the 2016/17 growing season, the final batch of coupons arrived on December 12 2017,” he said.
The minister warned suppliers, chiefs and all stakeholders against any form of corruption, saying his ministry will deal with anyone caught in the vice.
On his part, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture chairperson Sameer Suleman, who was present at the launch, said he was impressed with the new measures the ministry has put in place to seal loopholes in Fisp.
He said: “As a committee, our duty is that of oversight. We want to make sure that the programme is being carried out smoothly.
“We have seen that there is now a new system and we are optimistic that all inputs will reach intended beneficiaries. We will be moving together with the ministry to ensure that everything goes according to plan.”
The new measures, among others, empower government to disqualify, terminate an existing contract or ban non-compliant suppliers from participating in future Fisp contracts.
The penalties will be effected if a supplier is found selling counterfeit fertilisers or seeds not compliant with specifications, selling underweight bags of any fertiliser or seeds, buying coupons from beneficiaries, failing to honour a contract and operating in an area of award without a selling point.
Senior Chief Kaduya of Phalombe commended government for the programme, saying it has contributed food security among beneficiary households.
About 90 000MT of fertiliser will be distributed this year, out of which 45 000MT will be NPK and 45 000MT will be Urea.
To redeem their subsidised 50 kilogramme fertiliser bag, beneficiaries will be paying K4 500 against a market price of K19 500.