Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo says government has resolved to continue implementing the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) using both the direct input supply and the E-voucher system in order to address challenges of climate change.
And Katambo has announced that farmers will start accessing their 2019/2020 farming inputs on September 1, 2019 and that one million small scale farmers across the country will benefit from FSIP in the next season.
Speaking when he rendered a Ministerial statement to update the nation on how the ministry was preparing for the 2019/2020 agricultural season, Katambo told Parliament that farmers in areas that were prone to prolonged dry spells would be provided with an opportunity to select climate-smart agricultural inputs.
“Mr Speaker, the Patriotic Front government remains committed to supporting the small holder farmers through the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). The small holder farmers are the backbone of this country’s agricultural sector. The support under FISP will enable our small holder farmers to have access to affordable agriculture inputs and in turn guarantee household and national food security. Mr speaker, in the 2018/2019 agriculture season, FISP targeted to provide support to one million farmers, I am delighted to report that over 990 thousand small holder farmers accessed inputs in the 2018/2019 agricultural season. You may note that this represents over 99 per cent of the targeted beneficiaries. In the 2018/2019 agriculture season, the country experienced prolonged dry spells in some parts of the country, particularly Southern and Western parts. The prolonged dry spells affected the production of most crops and affected the household food security of most farmers in these areas. In addition, in the 2018/2019 season, the country experienced excessive rains in some parts of the Northern and Eastern parts of the country and an outbreak of fall army worms in some parts of the country,” Katambo noted.
“With regards to FISP, the key challenges were delayed payments to agro dealers by the Ministry as well as agro-dealers failing to stock adequate quantities of the agricultural inputs needed by the farmers. Mr Speaker, the ministry has undertaken lessons from the challenges encountered in the 2018/2019 agricultural season. In addressing the challenges both in terms of weather and the implementation of the programme, we have resolved to continue implementing the Farmer Input Support Programme using both the direct input supply and the E-voucher. These two modalities give the ministry as well as the farmers flexibility to respond to the challenges of climate change and technological challenges that affect the programme. Further, we have noted that continuously giving huge volumes of fertilizers to farmers in areas that have been experiencing prolonged dry spells is not serving the farmers well. Therefore, there is need to support farmers in areas that experienced prolonged dry spells with a flexible input support system that allows them to respond to the challenges of climate change. Farmers in areas that are prone to prolonged dry spells will therefore be supported through the e-voucher or cardless redeeming modalities. This will provide the farmer with an opportunity to select climate-smart agricultural inputs.”
Katambo further said the ministry had also resolved to provide farmers in parts of the country that received relatively good rainfall in recent years an opportunity to grow maize and other crops.
“The ministry will implement a deliberate policy of promoting the growing of maize in these areas in order to meet the national demands and focus on the export market demand for agriculture, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These two approaches to the Farmer Input Support Programme are expected to leverage the cooperative advantage that in the different regions of the country have. It is through this understanding of the production capacities of the various regions that we can have a diversified agricultural sector,” said Katambo.
“Mr Speaker, in the implementation of the Farmer Input Support Programme, the following measures have been put in place; one, the Farmer Input Support Programme will be implemented using the direct input supply and the e-voucher in the 2019/2020 agriculture season. Both modalities will be implemented under the Zambia Integrated Agriculture Management Information Systems (ZAMIS). Two, the ministry is finalizing the engagement of input suppliers under the direct input supply modality. Three, farmer deposits of K400 for the 2019/2020 farming season was opened on 1st July, 2019 and is expected to end on the 30th September, 2019. This period coincides with the agricultural marketing season which is the period when farmers have money. Four, farmers will be able to access the inputs from 1st September, 2019 which is way before the rain season and five, for the 2019/2020 farming season, FISP will target to provide input support to one million beneficiaries small scale farmers across the country.”