Removal of some legumes from the Farmer Input Support Program is a disaster-Small Scala Farmers
The National Union For Small Scale Farmers In Zambia (NUSFAZ) has described the decision by the government to remove some legumes from the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) as a disaster.
NUSFAZ Executive Director Ebony Loloji says small scale farmers have been denied an opportunity to create income and improve their lives, especially since the country has begun to go through a positive trajectory in as far as agriculture diversification is concerned.
Mr Loloji is concerned the decision has been made without consultations with relevant stakeholders adding that the decision is a drawback to those who are beginning to understand farming as a business.
In an interview with Phoenix News, Mr. Loloji has since appealed to the government to reverse the decision.
Some unconfirmed reports indicate that the 2020/2023 FISP would exclude crops such as groundnuts and soya seeds.
According to reports last week, Secretary to the Treasury, Felix Nkulukusa removed legumes from the Farmer Input Support Programm (FISP), a move which is likely to anger small scale farmers in rural areas. The decision by Mr Nkulukusa, according to sources from the Ministry of Agriculture would exclude crops such as groundnuts and soya seed from the FISP in the coming farming season.
“The FISP program is a vital tool for alleviating poverty, especially for the poor rural farmers. Hence it must be kept in its diversified form, to support all crops including maize, groundnuts & Soya seed. Legumes help meet nutritional needs of our rural poor who cannot afford other proteins like beef on their tables. These crops also enhance food security and broaden farmer’s income sources,” said Alfred Makumba, a Mkushi farmer.
According to Mr Makumba, the failure of the FISP program to support legumes may lead companies that depend on these crops like cooking oil making companies to be adversely affected.
“In short, all industries that depend on legumes will be adversely affected leading to massive job losses- the entire value chain will collapse. It’s against this background that we’re concerned with the behaviour of the Secretary to the Treasury for deciding to exclude all legumes from this year’s budget,” he said.
According to the source, “Mr Nkulukusa is very stubborn and wants to fix farmers and meanwhile, he’s busy giving concessions to rich mining firms? What are the priorities of this government? He’s working against the President who has been categorical in talking about a diversified Agriculture Support Program (ASP).”
The major problem, according to the source, was that Government was making decisions about the agriculture sector from the Ministry of Finance instead of the ministry responsible for agriculture.
“How feasible is it that technocrats from the Ministry are being ignored and decisions are being made from the Ministry of Finance? this is totally unacceptable,” said the source.
This decision is going to make the government very unpopular, especially in rural areas as most farmers depend on these legumes.
“We know that President Hakainde Hichilema means well, and he should reverse this retrogressive decision before it’s late. Even the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is deeply concerned with this development,” the source said.
Source – Lusakatimes.com