By JOHN KOMBE
GREEN Party president, Peter Sinkamba has said that the middlemen such as agro dealers in the Farmer Input Supply Programme (FISP) were an unnecessary burden that must be cut off if the cost of inputs is to be reduced.
Mr. Sinkamba was commenting on the government’s cancellation of the e-voucher system which will lead to the loss of business for agro dealers.
He said the whole system needs to be revised if the country was to reap the full benefits of the well-intended undertaking.
He said that the UPND government promised to reduce the cost of fertiliser and as such its decision cannot be viewed as political, but must be supported from an economic perspective.
Mr. Sinkamba said that middlemen in any business were a burden that must be avoided if one is to reduce costs.
He alleged that the whole programme and arrangement of agro dealers needs to be overhauled because some contracts were not awarded in a transparent manner.
Mr. Sinkamba said that agro dealers were causing an increase in the cost of the inputs and the government was paying more for the services which were previously handled by government structures.
He said he sympathised with agro dealers, but insisted that the arrangement was not sustainable.
According to Mr. Sinkamba, the government can still implement the FISP exercise through cooperative unions at provincial and district levels and that these did not need to be paid any money by the government because they were beneficiaries.
He said that this system has worked before and as such can easily be reintroduced to reduce the cost of inputs and other related costs.
And a farmer of Rufunsa, Ms. Justina Tembo said that some agro dealers had performed very badly and as such their exit was in the best interest of the farmers.
Ms Tembo said that the government needs to revert to the traditional method of using cooperative unions.
She said that farmers used to receive more inputs in the traditional method than they were receiving from the agro dealers.
By JOHN KOMBE