Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has missed the deadline for delivery of coupons to redeem inputs under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) as they will only be in the country on November 21.
Initially, government announced that Fisp coupons would be ready on October 15, but later pushed the deadline to end of October, citing a change in printer agents.
Fisp deputy national coordinator Osborne Tsoka, in an interview yesterday, confirmed the delay and said the coupons would be in the country on November 21.
He said: “The delay is because we are also enhancing security features. Previously, for instance, we had one serial number on the coupon and people would delete it easily and forge another number, which would be problematic.
“In other words, the coupons will also have many security features which will be tested before redemption from the private companies. So, this is something serious and we are hopeful that chances of fake coupons will be somewhat minimised.”
In addition, government has also finalised selection of the 900 000 beneficiaries for the 2016/17 farming year in all the districts, according to Tsoka.
He said a consultant from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) is categorising the beneficiary farmers based on their levels of poverty.
Said Tsoka: “Chances of recycling beneficiaries are very minimal because we have database from previous years in addition to the work the consultant is already doing. Furthermore, the data that will be produced by Luanar will also be beneficial for the future and not just this year.”
This is the first year since the inception of the programme in 2005 that government has decided to let it be run by private sector. About 60 percent of the programme which translates to 54 000 tonnes will be retailed by the private sector.
On the other hand, 36 000 tonnes will be redeemed through State agencies, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM).
There are 27 companies contracted to participate in the retailing of the 54 000 tonnes.
Currently, the Fisp budget stands at K34 billion, almost half of the estimated K60 billion that Capital Hill used to spend prior to the current changes in both programme design and cost sharing model. n