Zambian Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya says the distribution of farmer inputs for the 2017/2018 farming season starts on October 15.
The Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) is migrating to a complete electronic voucher (e-voucher) payment system. Government will spend K1.8 billion to support one million smallholder farmers. “This year, we expect timely and effective distribution of resources for farmers,” Siliya said.
Last year, the distribution of inputs under was fraught with delays and maladministration, but Siliya said robust measures were put in place to improve the system.
The Zambian government also increased the number of crops which FISP will cover to accelerate diversification. Tomatoes, cassava, cashew nuts and groundnuts are among the crops included in the broadened crop coverage. Previously, the programme largely covered maize.
Meanwhile, random interviews done in Lusaka show agro dealers had already stocked up on inputs and are in some cases, doing a roaring trade. Farmers say the demand for pesticides is high, as most farmers anticipated the outbreak of armyworm and stalk borers.
Last year, armyworm ravaged more than 172 000 hectares of maize in all 10 provinces. The cost of containing the pest ran into millions of kwacha.
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