The Zambian government is going all out to ensure a smooth 2017/’18 planting season, despite many farmers getting despondent about delayed farming inputs.
Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya at the weekend said government released K1 billion of K1.7 billion to activate electronic voucher (e-voucher) cards for the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). A further K200m will be released this week to pay farmers who sold maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). The FRA owes farmers K470million, and owes transporters K180million.
Siliya said the release of the funds will trigger a process to enable farmers to pay their K400 contribution, and allow them to access the counter-funding of K1 700 for farm inputs.
“Farmers who have made their K400 contribution will start receiving inputs,” Siliya told parliament following queries from lawmakers on delayed inputs.
She again warned farmers against unscrupulous traders selling fake seed.
Meanwhile, the scramble for farm inputs intensified, despite assurances that farmers can still plant maize until the third week of December.
“We fear that we will not receive inputs on time,” said Lameck Ngoma, a small-scale farmer of Lusaka’s 10 Miles.
Many farmers in other provinces agree. Their complaints include the non-availability of cards and a lack of money to make the K400 contribution.