A Zambian court sentenced three people to jail for theft of fertiliser meant for beneficiaries of government’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). Government welcomed the sentences as a deterrent to those involved in racketeering schemes related to the programme.
Luanshya magistrate Dominic Makalicha said the actions of the trio amounted to sabotaging government’s efforts in ensuring food security.
“It is unfortunate that you want to discredit the government which wants to ensure food security in the country and provide for the poor farmers,” he said before handing down a nine month sentence each to Gentle Mwila (25) of Mpongwe, and Steven Mwanasa (49) and James Njeu (42), both from Chililabombwe. None of them were civil servants.
The three were convicted after they failed to explain how they came into possession of 412 x 50 kilogramme bags of D-compound fertilizer. The fertilizer, valued at K140 000, belongs to government. The three were intercepted while transporting the bags in Mpongwe earlier this month.
The permanent secretary for agriculture, Julius Shawa, said the jailing of the three should serve as a warning to would be offenders. “Anyone involved in selling farmer inputs under FISP will be dealt with by the law. These inputs are meant to increase productivity in the agriculture sector and not to enrich a few individuals at the expense of millions of needy farmers,” he said.
Mpongwe district commissioner Keith Maila welcomed the convictions.
“The jail terms send a strong signal to all involved in selling FISP inputs. The law will visit them and appropriate punishment will be meted against them,” he said.
Government repeated the warning that it will deal harshly with those found abusing FISP.