Some farmers in Western Province’s Nkeyema district have cried foul over the manner the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) is being implemented in the locality and have now called for the programme to be entirely terminated.
The irate farmers complained that some growers, particularly those who hold portfolios in the area’s cooperatives, were being allocated more farmer input packs than others.
But the Ministry of Agriculture in Nkeyema district has allayed the farmers’ accusations and explained that there are no farmer groups who are being allocated more packs than others under FISP or any other such government programme.
The farmers, who sought anonymity for fear of victimisation, alleged that the trend has been that some farmers are being allocated one to two packs each; while others were being given as much as 90 input packs much to the disadvantage of the majority.
But reacting to the farmers’ complaints, Nkeyema district marketing and development officer, Orick Chinyemba, said that what determines the amount of input packs each cooperative receives was the number of members it has as well as how active they were.
The farmers talked to said the unfair development is principally rife in Nkeyema district’s Munkuye area were office holders in the cooperatives there are benefitting more than others and wondered what criteria was being employed in the allocation of the inputs.
The farmers alleged that the office holders in some of the cooperatives are reaping more packs under FISP to the point that they end up selling them as they cannot utilise everything they receive.
The farmers said that the unfair distribution of packs under FISP was negating the very purpose of the programme and should thus be scrapped-off so that all farmers could compete on a level and fair playing field.
He said that the Ministry of Agriculture does not determine the number of input packs allocated to each farmer and explained that that task is the preserve of the Camp Agricultural Committee (CAC)).
Mr Chinyemba said that once the District Agricultural Committee (DAC), which comprises of different government departments and farmer groups, decides on the quantities to be allocated to each farming block and camp, the CAC ultimately allocates to the individual farmer cooperatives.
He said Nkeyema district received 5,903 farming input packs for the 2015/2016 farming season instead of the usual 8,700 input packs, but was quick to point out that the area is in the process of receiving an extra of 3,000 packs – which will cater for the deficit.
Mr Chinyemba said that a pack of farming inputs under FISP consists of two 50 kilogrammes basal dressing fertilisers (‘D’ Compound), two 50 kilogrammes of top dressing fertilisers (Urea) as well as one 10 kilogramme bag of seed.
He said that each farmer gets one pack each and no farmer is entitled to more than one pack as alleged by some farmers and called on those with information of any malpractice to report to the relevant authorities.