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THE uncertainty that has been created over the future of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) is not good for the agricultural sector.

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The situation has not been helped by the many conflicting statements that have been issued by government leaders.

Farmers, particularly the vulnerable small-scale farmers who depend on FISP to ensure they remain food secure must be assured that they will continue to enjoy the facility.

Thus, we agree with Mr Yotam Mayachalo, the Chama North Member of Parliament when he says the uncoordinated or conflicting statements from government ministers on the continuity of FISP) is confusing not only Members of Parliament but the public. 

Mr Mtayachalo says he is concerned with the number of contradictory statements from government leaders over the future of FISP and that MPs as representatives of the people were getting confused on correct information to give to citizens in their constituencies.

We too are baffled over the status of FISP as Government is yet to clarify its position over the contradictory statements over its status.

Last week. Commerce, Trade and Industry, Minister Chipoka Mulenga described as misinformation, the announcement that Government will slowly phase out FISP and replace it with a concessionary loan scheme for small-scale farmers.

Yet, on July 28, 2023 before parliament adjourned sine die, Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo Phiri informed the House that the country was slowly transitioning from FISP to a concessionary loan scheme for small-scale farmers.

“I would like to take this opportunity madam Speaker, that Zambia should know that this FISP is slowly going to erode, slowly going to be reduced, slowly going to be taken out. We are working towards giving cheap loans to farmers so that we can deal only with serious people. This release of free seed and free fertiliser to beneficiaries is not doing us any good,” Mr Phiri said.

But as Mr Mtayachalo noted, “Last year, the republican Vice President Mutale Nalumango told Parliament that Government shall not phase out FISP and assured the nation that the new dawn government was going to continue to offer vulnerable farmers subsided farming inputs.

The statement followed the concerns raised in Parliament after the government signed a bailout package agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

It is important, as Mr Mtayachalo said, for the chief government spokesperson, who is the Minister of Information and Media to give a clear and detailed government position of the new dawn administration over the future of FISP.

It is too important a programme to be left in a lurch, with key stakeholders lost.

Mr Mulenga, speaking on Hot FM radio said he did not hear Mr Phiri’s announcement that Government would slowly phase out FISP and replace it with a loan scheme for small-scale farmers.

“I did not hear my colleague (Mtolo Phiri) say this but if he said it, I need to sit with my colleague. 

“I report to a man called Hakainde Hichilema who is the President of the Republic of Zambia and to respond to what you have said, I need to ride on the statement that he (President Hichilema) issued. I don’t know on which points you are quoting the Minister of Agriculture but the President made it abundantly clear during the Agricultural and Commercial Show when he talked about FISP and the other concessional loan scheme that is coming,” Mr Mulenga said.

Where does FISP stand amidst all this?



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