GOVERNMENT has declared the Farming Input Support Programme (FISP) a failed project because most farmers for whom it was intended turned the programme into a social cash transfer.
And Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya revealed that more than 7000 ghost farmers had been removed from the beneficiaries list which saw government pay a lot of money to non-existent farmers across the country.
Ms Siliya said while the FISP programme was meant to help vulnerable and small scale farmers graduate into commercial businesses which were eventually weaned off, the programme had been reduced to a social cash transfer project hence its failure to meet its original objectives.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Ms Siliya said most FISP beneficiaries had failed to graduate and be weaned and had continued to return to the government programme for inputs year after year.
“The FISP programme has become a failed project and government is seriously relooking at the programme. Last year, more than 7000 ghost farmers were removed from the FISP list which had seen government pay a lot of money to non-existent farmers. FISP was supposed to turn farmers into business venture so that the beneficiaries could graduate to commercial farmers and be weaned off the programme. But as it turns out, the beneficiaries have turned the programme into a social cash transfer to which people continue to return,” Ms Siliya said.
Ms Siliya said it did not make sense that government had continued to pump in money into the FISP programme and buying the maize from the farmers at a higher price so that the beneficiaries could make profit but that had not helped to make the farmers graduate.
She explained that government had also been paying the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) to manufacture fertilizer which was being given to farmers under the FISP programme yet the programme was not helping the beneficiaries to grow.
Ms Siliya said the agriculture FISP programme was not a social welfare programme but a business which was meant to have graduate.
“The FISP programme was supposed to help farmers with the potential to grow but as it turns out, it has stopped making any economic sense as shown by the fact that some farmers who are the beneficiaries are still failing to raise the K400 deposit fees to access inputs,” Ms Siliya said.