“Civil servants abusing FISP” – NGO

An agriculture NGO claims extension officers in the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) are abusing the system.

The claims by the Zambia Agriculture Rural Development Initiative (ZARDI) came amid mounting pressure to eradicate problems in FISP’s management.

President Edgar Lungu said he would soon constitute a team of experts to investigate flaws in the system and make recommendations for smooth implementation by the next planting season.

“Leaders of some cooperatives and agriculture extension officers are conniving and selling inputs for their own benefit at the expense of eligible and vulnerable farmers,” executive Gilbert Mpanga claimed in an interview.

“A lot of people such as civil servants and other people who do not qualify are accessing inputs under FISP to the exclusion of farmers who were in real need of government support,” he said.

According to Mpanga, his organisation had comprehensive information about the alleged FISP abuses in a number of districts.

He named Sinazongwe in Southern province as one of the districts where his organisation recently unearthed alleged abuses.

Government earlier said it was investigating claims of abuses involving government officials, but had not yet made public its findings.

The programme was under scrutiny last week, after contrasting parliamentary submissions.

Governor of the Bank of Zambia (BOZ), Denny Kalyalya, urged government to scrap FISP, after the programme’s cost increased from K1.8 billion to K2.3billion in the last two years. Kalyalya appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Estimates.

The same committee heard from the ministry of agriculture that FISP had been pivotal in improving productivity in the agriculture sector.

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