Opposition Party of National Unity and Progress President Highvie Hamududu has told the Government to quickly involve members of the defense forces in the distribution of the delayed farmer input for the 2022/2023 farming season.
Mr. Hamududu, an economist, said the delay in the distribution of farming inputs under the farmer input support program (FISP) is such a disaster that must not be repeated.
He said the men and women in uniform could help out in FISP if the normal government systems are overwhelmed by the crisis caused by the delayed distribution countrywide.
Mr. Hamududu has since called for better alternatives to the current failing agricultural policies and support mechanisms.
“Expedite input distribution to farmers. The delay in the distribution of farming inputs under the farmer input support program (FISP) is such a disaster that must not be repeated in future, and even at this late hour, let government summon its best mechanisms available to expedite the process, get the men and women in uniform to help out if the normal government systems are overwhelmed by the crisis,” Mr. Hamududu said.
“As a country we are losing so much opportunities of leveraging on our agricultural potential to fight unemployment, poverty and inequalities in a more precise and impactful manner. Going forward, we need a big conversation on the current agricultural policies and support mechanisms. There are definitely better alternatives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chama North Member of Parliament Yotam Mtayachalo has described the distribution of farming inputs under the 2022/2023 farming season a national disaster.
Mr. Mtayachalo said in Chama North and many parts of the country confusion has characterized FISP following the Government’s decision to replace old beneficiaries with people that have just formed cooperatives.
“The distribution of farming inputs in Chama district in eastern province and possibly the nation at large can best be described as a national disaster because although some farming inputs have been delivered nevertheless farmers have not yet started accessing their inputs despite meeting the k400 contribution due to a number of factors which have arisen. Firstly, the District Agriculture Coordinators have been instructed to remove some names of old beneficiaries at the eleventh hour in order to accommodate new cooperatives even when the original list of beneficiaries was made public and as such some farmers who have been removed from the list have already deposited their contributions and as such is the government going to refund these members who have been removed from list? This development has created a lot of confusion and as such the lives of agriculture Camp Agriculture Coordinators (CAC) are at risk when actually it is not their fault because the information coming out from the ministry of agriculture is not what is obtaining on the ground due to lack of national uniformity from the ministry as what percentage of old members should be removed as beneficiaries to accommodate new members,” Mr. Mtayachalo said.
The Chama North MP observed that technical glitches have also contributed to the delayed delivery of inputs.
”For example in Chama district 50% of old beneficiaries are being removed from the list at the eleventh hour to infuse in members from new cooperatives while in other district it is something else. Secondly, farmers have complained that the number of packs given to cooperatives are not sufficient according to their membership without proper explanation from higher authorities in the Ministry of Agriculture. Further, farmers are not able to access farming inputs because the Zamis system in Chama district operated by Smart Zambia has technical challenges hence seed and fertilizer cannot be issued to farmers and unless the system is rectified as quickly as possible farmers will be delayed to access farming inputs hence they will not be able to plan adequately for the 2022/2023 farming season more importantly that the rains have started,” the lawmaker said.
“Furthermore it must be realized the continued delay in the distribution of farming inputs in the country especially in rural areas where roads are inaccessible during the rainy season has the potential to undermine food security in the country and exacerbate the hunger situation such as Chama district were some people are surviving on mangoes due to lack of food. It is in light of the foregoing that the government should ensure that the challenges behind the distribution of farming inputs are resolved as quickly as possible to avert the looming food insecurity in the country,” he concluded.