AGRICULTURE Minister Mtolo Phiri has announced that beneficiaries under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) will begin to collect inputs on Monday, October 18.
During a media briefing, Wednesday, Phiri revealed that the FISP audit was almost complete and that government was putting in place measures to ensure that malpractices on the programme were curtailed.
“The government is putting in measures to ensure that malpractices are curtailed on the FISP programme and ensure that input delivery is equitable for all farmers across the country. In this regard, I would like to report that the Ministry will soon announce a number of reforms to FISP once approval is granted by cabinet. You may wish to know that the FISP will support a total of one million beneficiaries and it will be implemented through two modalities, that is the direct input supply modality and the e-voucher modality,” Phiri said.
“Government has maintained the farmer contribution at K400 per FISP beneficiary. To this end, as at 11th October, 2021, 98 percent of the targeted one million beneficiaries had successfully deposited their contributions. I have a pleasure to announce that effective, Monday, 18th of October, 2021, beneficiary farmers under the FISP can begin to collect inputs in all provinces of the country. Government is in the process of finalising measures to ensure equity in the distribution of inputs in all provinces. I therefore wish to advise all farmers to begin collecting inputs, pending further instructions on the measures we have taken to equalise input distribution under FISP. The FISP audit is at 95% done and there is just a small portion has remained. It is because of that we have allowed the FISP to commence because they will polish up the audit.”
Phiri said government authorised the export of 1,177,500 metric tonnes of maize by various players in the country.
“Government authorised the export of 1,177,500 metric tonnes of maize by various players in the country. I therefore wish to report that between 1st and 11th October, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture has issued export permits for maize grain. Members of Grain Traders Association of Zambia have been granted permits to export a total of 1,410 metric tonnes. Non-members of the Grain Traders Association of Zambia, the Ministry has issued permits to export 420 metric tonnes. For mealie meal, members of the Millers Association of Zambia have been issued permits to export 42,858 metric tonnes of mealie meal which is equivalent to 50,421 metric tonnes of grain,” he said.
“For maize and wheat bran, members of stock feed importers and exporters association of Zambia have been granted permits to export 2,250 metric tonnes of both maize and wheat bran while non-members have been issued permits to export 3,000 metric tonnes of both maize and wheat bran. For soya beans, members of Grain Traders Association of Zambia have been permitted to export 750 MT of soya beans while non-members have been issued with permits to export 2,250 MT of soya beans. For soya and cotton cake, members of Crushers of Edible Oils and Refiners Association have received permits to export 3,810 MT of soya and cotton cake.”
Meanwhile, Phiri said meal prices had reduced to about K110 and K115.
“I am surprised and I do not know when the last time we were in the shops was. In all honesty, I think the price of mealie meal have been coming down. I remember buying a bag of mealie meal at about K150 but now the prices of mealie meal are a bit low at about K110 to K115. So the prices will go down however, we will take note of that and the department will look into it. But I can assure you that I think the prices are going down. Whoever will be selling their prices now will simply not have the market,” he said.
“Even the export prices of mealie meal, we follow the market and I can assure you that they are not outrageous. This means that you will not get the millers exporting everything outside and starve the country. The prices are fairly close so one would just wait as we work on production and export other than looking at huge margins. Once prices go up, it is very difficult for them to go down. Normally, they will either maintain or marginally decrease.”
Phiri said government had bought about 18 million empty grain bags so far.
“The empty grain bags are bought in tranches. If we have bought for example 800,000 metric tonnes, you multiply this by 20 and so that will be about 18 million empty grain bags. Now imagine the logistical nightmare that is across the country. So about 18 million empty grain bags have been bought and distributed thus far,” said Phiri.