storage, grain, harvest, Absa

Zambian small-scale farmers slam “exploitative” agro dealers

The National Union of Small-scale Farmers of Zambia (NUSFAZ) says its members are being charged K650, instead of K400, by agro dealers to access inputs under the government-funded Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).

Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that civil servants, who are ineligible to access FISP, are among beneficiaries.

“This trend of exploiting our members must be stopped, as it places a huge burden on struggling farmers,” NUSFAZ President Frank Kayula said.

Under the system, government provides K1 700 worth of farm inputs to 1 million small-scale farmers.

Kayula said District Agricultural Coordinators (DACO) in the affected areas have been alerted to curb the practice of overcharging.

Meanwhile, FISP beneficiaries have started accessing inputs, but concerns were raised that civil servants are among the beneficiaries.

“Directives have been issued to remove civil servants who presented themselves as beneficiaries. FISP is for vulnerable farmers, not people who can afford to buy inputs with their own resources,” said Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa.

Previously, FISP’s administration was marred by malpractice, including so-called ghost farmers benefitting. Following reforms, including the introduction of a complete electronic voucher card system, the Ministry of Agriculture recently cut 20 000 non-existent farmers from the programme.

Shaw said farmers in all provinces have now started receiving inputs, while government will tightly manage the process to ensure malpractices are eliminated.

Also read:
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Pressure mounts on Zambian government to deliver farmer inputs
Farmers pessimistic, but Zambian government wants smooth planting season

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