The Zambian government has pruned 600 000 beneficiaries from its Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), while it announced the beginning of this years’ farming season as September 1.
According to local media reports, Zambian Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya said the reduction is the result of effective targeting of intended beneficiaries of FISP.
The reports said so-called ghost farmers and others who don’t meet the criteria for selection are including in the cut.
“It is worth noting that over the past two seasons, an estimated 25 000 people have been removed from the FISP list due to death, ghost farmers or cards which weren’t collected.
“It is expected more will fall off, while others will be screened out because they are salaried employees either in public or private sector,” Siliya said.
She said the screening out of beneficiaries is aimed at removing the problems associated with the implementation of the pilot electronic voucher (e-voucher) payment system. It targeted 602,521 smallholder farmers during the 2016/2017 farming season.
Government will this farming season spend K2 billion to implement a fully fledged e-voucher payment system.
Siliya said all provincial agricultural coordinators were informed of the revised national beneficiary target of 1 million, with revised district allocations.
She said a central register for beneficiaries, agro dealers, other input suppliers and financial institutions will be created to eliminate malpractices.
“This will facilitate the monitoring of the type of inputs that beneficiaries access, including indicative prices,” she said.
Siliya said farmers will be able to access inputs on various technology platforms from the first week of September, as soon as they paid their contribution.