Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have opposed the calls to reduce or scrap off funding to the Farmers Input Support Program (FISP) in the 2024 budget.
Speaking in an interview with Lusaka Star, an Agriculturalist Frank Kayula said that the idea of scraping off FISP is not a good plan because it will not help smallholder farmers in the country.
Dr. Kayula said small scale farmers are major producers and suppliers of maize that feed the nation with over 90 percent of maize that is produced in Zambia.
“At the moment we cannot do away with the program as it is the major sponsor to small scale farmers, unless there are alternatives and if the restructured FISP works well, the better,” Dr. Kayula said.
“Even with the FISP which is almost useless in terms of meeting its objectives, it has failed but we cannot say do away with it at the moment, unless we have alternatives.”
However, Dr. Kayula said that the only challenge is that smallholder farmers have no other access where they can get a loan to support their farming.
Meanwhile, National Union for Small Scale Farmers in Zambia (NUSFAZ) Executive Director Ebony Lolozi said FISP should not be scrapped off completely at the moment.
Mr. Lolozi said that the reason why FISP has failed is because it has only been concentrated on farming inputs only rather than other farming services.
“Other programs that enhance productivity have been left out such as research, irrigation and others,” Mr. Lolozi said.
Mr. Lolozi further called for promotion of extension, research, and irrigation which encompass agriculture to yield better results, stating that if these programs are introduced, FISP will be more effective.
And the Small Scale Farmers Development Agency (SAFADA) Executive Director Boyd Moobwe said that FISP is the only alternative that small scale farmers have at the moment and it should serve its purpose instead of scraping it off.
“We wanted this FISP to be scrapped off about four years ago, but at the moment, we don’t support that because it will confuse the system as government has already started distributing inputs for the 2023-2024 farming season,” Mr. Moobwe said.
Mr. Moobwe also called on government to address loopholes in the FISP.
This was in reaction to the call to reduce or scrap off funding towards FISP by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Zambia on June 26, 2023.