Government should revisit the he targeted Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) because it has not benefitted the majority poor, an academician has told the Minister of Finance, Joseph Mwanamvekha.
Vice chancellor of the Lilongwe University of Natural Resources and Agriculture Professor Kanyama Phiri said during a pre-budget consultations—hosted by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development— that the subsidy programme has not yielded the intended results.
“Farmers were wrongly targeted. It seems the government did not know the real problem. It could be that the problem was soil fertility, then the government needed to see how to improve the soil fertility to improve food productivity,” said Kanyama Phiri.
The academician expressed his frustration that the programme is increasingly missing its goal of promoting household and national food security through government’s provision of quality seeds and subsidised fertiliser to smallholder farmers.
He said even the issue of soil infertility was different from one place to another, one region to another.
Kanyama Phiri therefore said it was wrong to give all farmers similar package of fertilizer, seeds, legumes and others when their needs were different.
He cited an example of Nsanje and Chikhwawa where he said maize seeds were not much needed because they mostly do not grow maize whilst in other areas, he said fertilizer was not needed.
In response, Minister of Finace, Economic Planning and Development, Mwanamvekha said the government was in the process of reviewing the whole Fisp program so that it benefitted the targeted smallholder farmers.
Since 2005, Malawi has invested about K398.6 billion in Fisp, an equivalent of a third of the K1.4 trillion national budget, raising calls from opposition parties and other commentators, including Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama), for government to abolish the programme because it is not achieving its intended purpose.
Some of the Fisp critics have also suggested increased investment in irrigation as a better alternative towards achieving household and national food security goals.
Despite investing billions of kwacha in Fisp, millions of Malawians have continued to face food shortages.
During the first few years, after its introduction 14 years ago, Fisp proved effective to poor farmers who enabled Malawi to retain its earlier status of feeding itself after many years of food insecurity.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :