Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program, or FISP, has been dealt a big blow following the decision by Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) to withdraw its £700,000 (about K630million) funding.
The government effort, introduced eight years ago, enables the poor farmers to buy farm inputs including fertilizers at reduced prices.
But Jean Marshall, head of DfID in Malawi, confirmed the withdraw of the support but will continue supporting a number of investments which support national agriculture development priorities.
According to Marshal, the program “finally closes at the end of July 2017.”
Malawi’s support for fertilizer and other farm inputs takes up more over half of Malawi’s agricultural budget
Billy Mayaya, the chairperson of National Right to Food Network in Malawi, says there is need to find an exit strategy to FISP.
“There are a lot of concerns on issues of food in the country particularly the implementation of FISP,” he said. “While it is a good program at the same time, there are concerns over the expense of the program, and I think there is the need for the government to start considering an exit strategy.”
Despite the program, Malawi has still had to import maize.
Supporters of FISP say those shortages are another reason for keeping the program.
Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) asked government to consider an exit strategy for Fisp, saying it was becoming unsustainable due to its cost on the budget, among others.
A research commissioned by DfID found that 25 percent of the selected beneficiaries are resource-poor farmers with the well-to-do farmers taking up about 50 percent and the remainder being taken up by the middle class farmers.
Ministert of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe remains adamant that government will continue supporting FISP “using local resources.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :