Smallholder farmers have warned of a poor harvest in the coming season, lamenting what they have described as the ‘disastrous’ management and distribution of this year’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
“Farmers have been left stranded without seed or fertiliser,” said Dr Frank Kayule, president of the National Union for Small-Scale Farmers.
“Agri-dealers, who are supposed to be supplying farmers with inputs under the e-voucher system, have not been paid by government,” said Kayule.
Last week government assured the farming community that the FISP distribution was on track, with almost 80% distributed and the remaining 20% to be completed by this month.
However, Kayule said most farmers still had no seed or fertiliser. “If these farmers do not receive inputs by next week, Zambia is going to experience a poor harvest that will result in increased levels of hunger,” he said. Nearly 70% of Zambia’s staple food is grown by smallholder farmers.
About 600,000 farmers were to benefit from the new e-voucher system, while a million farmers were to benefit from conventional FISP distribution.
Minister of Agriculture, Dora Siliya, said recently that FISP had failed in its aim to integrate smallholder farmers into the commercial mainstream.