Farmers exposed widespread malpractices in the distribution of the Farming Inputs Support Programme (FISP). They claim they have been disadvantaged by unscrupulous people and government agents who were profiting from the system.
The claims came days after minister of agriculture, Dora Siliya, declared that FISP had failed to propel small-scale farmers into commercial viability.
The minister attributed the failure to the fact that most beneficiaries treated it as social cash transfer benefit. She said in other aspects unscrupulous agents were profiting from the scheme through payments to ghost-farmers.
Scores of farmers interviewed in Masaiti, a rich farming area in the rural Copperbelt Province, appealed to the minister to engage them. They said the “bad guys” needed to be weeded out because the innocent beneficiaries were suffering.
“Government spends a lot of money on ghost and crooked farmers who use national registration cards (NRCs) of non-farmers and dead relatives just to get the inputs and sell them to make money,” claimed one farmer who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.