Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo has disclosed that this year’s target for beneficiaries of the Farmer Input Support Programme – FISP has been maintained at one million.
Zambia’s maize production is dominated by local emerging farmers who account for more than 90% of the total annual production. The country recorded a Maize bumper harvest of about 3.4 million tons which was about 69% growth in production from the previous season.
The Agro Minister stated that the ministry has this time earnestly started activating the programme by picking on direct input suppliers and registering of agro-dealers through the E-Voucher System and the Direct Input Supply.
Katambo told the Zambian Business Times – ZBT in an exclusive interview that the ministry has maintained the one million target for small scale farmers which was set last year adding that the date of accessing these inputs will be communicated soon.
He said the ministry is already ahead of schedule as about 80% of fertilizer is available within the country hence the Food Reserve Agency – FRA will soon will move on the market to ensure farmers start selling their commodities.
Katambo further said that the K400 still stands for contributions from farmers who want to access the inputs for this year’s season and that the ministry has already contracted suppliers who are currently delivering inputs in designated areas across the country.
“The suppliers that the ministry has contracted are already delivering these inputs and we are also working to see at what stage these inputs will be distributed to help in achieving meaningful development in rural areas,” He said
The minister has since encouraged farmers to sell their produce to the Food Reserve Agency – FRA where they are guaranteed of good prices and not to traders commonly called ‘briefcase businessmen’ who are offering lower than FRA prices.
The Agro minister further urged farmers to only sell what is surplus to them and safeguard household food security. There is no need to sell everything and even fail to secure one’s household food security. Moreover, FRA has offered to buy upto 1 million tons of maize for this farming season which should encourage farmers to sell at better prices.