Government has announced that it will this year undertake various measures aimed at addressing deficiencies recorded in the operations of the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) during the 2008/2009 farming season.
The measures include the production of an early procurement plan for 2009/2010 season, reviwei8ng the levels of subsidy for 2009/2010 proportionately and reviewing levels of pack sizes downwards or upwards to suite the amounts of hectares to be grown and the number of farmers to support.
Other measures are rezoning the country and securing more companies during the tendering process to supply inputs for efficient distribution to all provinces within the stipulated time and strengthening the FSP by focusing on extension services .
Agriculture Minister Brian Chituwo In a ministerial statement in parliament today said there has been dishonest among district agricultural committee members and the co-operation from co-operatives executive who have discriminated against other framers to their own advantage.
He further said there was non observance of guidelines by district Agricultural committees in identification procedures of bona fide beneficiaries.
The Minister told the house that some farmers resold their inputs to other at higher costs than the amount prescribed under the subsidy.
Despite the deficiencies, The Minister said the FSP has been done successfully in the areas where there was no thefts and abuse .
The initial budget for the FSP for the 125 000 farmers in 2008 financial year was about K185 billion which was meant to purchase 50,000 metric tones of both basal and top dressing and 2500 metric tones of seed.
The figure was however revised and an additional K300 650, 400 000 was sort to procure 80 000 metric tones of inputs of each basal and top dressing.
Nyiombo Investment Limited and Omnia Small scale limited were awarded the contract on the 50 -50 percent basis to supply the commodity countrywide.
The Minister stated that if the suppliers had complied with the contractual terms, that the commodity would have reached depots countrywide by November 2008.
“ In fact both companies had indicated during the tender that they already had adequate stocks of urea in the country. In earnest therefore the distribution of fertiliser started in later part of November into December, 2008’ he added.
The minister however told parliament that his ministry will also consider the recapitalization of Nitrogen chemicals of Zambia for cheaper fertilizer in partnership with the private sector.
And the minister have revealed that a team of officials from the ministry, government department and the private sector had gone on a study tour of the FSP to Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi.
He said the team that went into sampled districts to monitor distribution of the inputs returned last week.
He said the report shall be the basis for recommendations of committee of ministers to cabinet in the review process of the FSP for 2009/2010 framing season.