Fisp has not benefitted ordinary Malawians, says academician

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.

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Ajofia
Ajofia
1 year ago

The purpose of introducing the FISP was quite good and commendable. However, in complete contrast, it has not achieved its intended objectives due to two main challenges thus corruption and politics. Others factors such soil fertility as the academician and Prof. Phiri has alluded to or this and that are in my view secondary. If we are to maximize output from FISP, make it a no go zone for corruption and politic full stop.

kantonga
1 year ago

the programme is nothing but a campaigning tool for parties..

Kapado Chimulirenji
1 year ago

Kanyama is mad. If people in Nsanje and Chikwawa do not grow maize what do they eat? Do you think maize is only for your home,Lilongwe? This is why I sometimes find educated people to be irrelevant – they are the likes of Kanyama.

Peloma Pepe
Peloma Pepe
1 year ago

Sheee koma chizungu aMalawi chimativuta ndithu! He said “not much needed” osati “not needed”. These two are not the same. Eish!

KLRP
KLRP
1 year ago

I totally agree with the LUANAR professor. For us in Thyolo, land is a big problem, therefore we maximise gains on our small plots of land through irrigation by cultivating tomatoes, cabbages and other crops which fetch more money than maize. We can buy maize with those resources. Supporting us with medium sized irrigation pumps at 5 year intervals could transform our lives much more than the subsidy fertilizer. Women could equally benefit from this investment as it will require minimal effort to water the gardens.

Analyst
Analyst
1 year ago

The program ended perpetual hunger and for the first time in a long time the country had surplus food! How is that not helping the farmers. You say the problem “could have been” soil fertility and the government was supposed to solve that problem? Isn’t the purpose of fertiliser to improve soil fertility?? And why don’t you do research and report to the government recommendations to further improve productivity if you have the time to do so? LUANAR runs on our tax money and you you should be busy conducting research and making recommendations to government other than just wasting… Read more »

Ulemu Banda
Ulemu Banda
1 year ago
Reply to  Analyst

Judging from your response I doubt you have read the whole article.

Analyst
Analyst
1 year ago
Reply to  Ulemu Banda

I usually just read the heading and head to the comments section. I have no time to read trash like this!

Peloma Pepe
Peloma Pepe
1 year ago
Reply to  Analyst

So all you’ve commented is based on reading the headline? Does the headline say anything about soil fertility? Just admit basi!

Analyst
Analyst
1 year ago
Reply to  Peloma Pepe

That makes it obvious that I read the article. Tell that to Ulemu Banda.

Citizen
Citizen
1 year ago
Reply to  Analyst

Mr Analyst how do you analyse something you haven’t thoroughly read?

Analyst
Analyst
1 year ago
Reply to  Citizen

I have special abilities.

National CEO
National CEO
1 year ago
Reply to  Analyst

Some people have never recieved the subsidised inputs but at the end of the year, the poor still come to beg from them. Why can’t universal subsidy be considered?

Analyst
Analyst
1 year ago
Reply to  National CEO

The goal is not for everyone to receive the subsidies. Rather it is to end perpetual hanger. The program is targeted. Mind you, subsidies are financed by tax money which essentially comes from your pockets. If the subsidies were to be given to anyone, it would be the same as the government taking your own money, buying you fertilizer and giving it to you. It’s not everyone who needs fertilizer, some of you have better plans than farming. The government supports those whose best plan is farming but don’t have capacity to do so productively. Full stop!

big wig
big wig
1 year ago

Great to see respectable academics like the Professor give opinions on matters that require scientific input. I hope his suggestions for characterizing the needs of different places can be put into practice. The data is readily available on conditions for crop production and what the main constraints are. Leave politics out of the implementation of this programme and excellent results will be realized.

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