Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has expressed concern over the delay on the implementation of the whole process of Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) by government.
The Union’s President, Alfred Kapichira Banda told a news conference in Lilongwe during the presentation of 2016/17 FISP Implementation findings in which the union has been monitoring to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the program in promoting targeted beneficiaries access to and use of subsidized inputs.
He said this year’s program has been gripped with so many challenges and the major one being delay in implementing the program whereby the implementation started very late a situation which put most farmers in an awkward position to plan for their farming.
“Farmers know very late that they are not on the subsidy program and fail to re-plan on how they would mobilize funds to buy inputs at full prices due to failure by government to observe time to start the process,” he said.
He said the development threatens to put Malawi into a dangerous vicious cycle of food insecurity as farmers who are not on the program have less time to access the unsubsidized inputs on the market.
Already, he said, about half of the population in the country is estimated to be food insecure due to El Nino and subsequent floods that damaged crops during the last farming season.
He therefore appealed to government to ensure timeliness in the implementation of the program for fear of experiencing a delayed agricultural recovery process.
However, some of the challenges that have been experienced during the 2016/17 program include supply of fertilizers to the markets with suppliers stocking smaller quantities which do not take time to finish leaving farmers stranded, Coupon distribution which were made after the first rains have already started making farmers to use their grains instead of certified maize seed, acute shortage of NPK fertilizer in the country and farmers travelling long distances in search of inputs among others.