Julius Shawa, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said, over the weekend, that a variety of seed types was to be distributed nation-wide, and that government had given the seed companies up to the end of this week to complete the exercise.
In his media update on the government’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) roll-out for the 2016/2017 planting season, Shawa said the distribution of D-Compound fertilizer in all 10 provinces was almost completed, with 86 000 tons distributed out of a targeted 96 000 tons.
“Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia have assured me that they will finish distributing the remaining 10 000 tons by 15 December,” he said.
Shawa also told farmers that the distribution of urea, the top dressing fertilizer, should be finished by end of the year, with more than 40% distributed so far.
“There is no need to panic. Come mid-January when the top dressing is supposed to be applied, every farmer would have received urea,” he said.
The roll-out of the 2016/2017 FISP that started in May 2016 has been slowed by various delays and malpractices that left many farmers without inputs, especially in high rainfall provinces like Northern, Muchinga, Luapula and part of the Copperbelt, where rains started early.
INPUTS PROGRAMME A ‘FAILED PROJECT’
President Edgar Lungu officially declared the 2016/2017 planting season open on Friday, 2 December. The president urged farmers to plant a variety of crops provided through FISP rather than to limit themselves to planting only maize.
Of an estimated 1.6 million small-scale Zambian farmers planting this year, about 1 million will receive support under conventional FISP distribution, while the remaining 600,000 will benefit under the e-voucher system.
FISP has been declared a “failed project” by Agriculture Minister, Dora Siliya, who two weeks ago called for a complete overhaul of the programme to ensure that beneficiaries graduated to commercial farming.