Zambian government cuts 20 000 ghost farmers from FISP

The Ministry of Agriculture removed 20 000 so-called ghost farmers from the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to eliminate malpractices.

“Most of the people who benefit from FISP are not farmers, and this exercise is to ensure the programme benefits the intended smallholder farmers,” said Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya. Siliya said the 20 000 ghost farmers were identified during an ongoing review of the programme.

She said her ministry put together a number of recommendations it intended to table before cabinet for approval to improve FISP’s effectiveness. FISP supports more than 1.6 million smallholder farmers, and its cost increased to K2.3billion from K1.8billion in the last two years.

This drew criticism of the programme as unsustainable, especially taking into account the low economic growth rates. But Siliya reiterated that government had no intention to scrap the programme and would continue working on its administration.

Last month government took a decision to broaden the number of crops covered by FISP to 10 in a bid to accelerate crop diversification. Tomatoes, cassava, cashew nuts and groundnuts are among the crops included in the broadened FISP coverage under FISP. Previously, the programme largely covered maize.

On problems encountered with the e-voucher system, Siliya said government is working on acquiring technology applications to surmount the challenges farmers faced in the last planting season. “We are looking at investing in technologies to monitor movement of farm inputs from suppliers to farmers through agro dealers to improve the performance of the e-voucher system,” she said.

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