Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe on Tuesday hit back at critics of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), insisting that government will not abandon implementation of the initiative.
Instead, Gondwe, speaking in an interview in Lilongwe, said going forward, government is redesigning Fisp to ensure that beneficiaries graduate after some time.
He said: “We are in the process of redesigning Fisp and the Fisp we are implementing now is different from the Fisp we implemented last year and it will be different in the subsequent programmes.
“For example, the 2015/2016 National Budget saw beneficiaries who were selected from a pool of maize growers paying to access farm inputs.”
The minister also took a swipe at some quarters for “misunderstanding” the Fisp concept, saying: “People think that we have Fisp so that we can increase production and have a higher gross domestic product [GDP], but that is not the case.”
Gondwe stressed that Fisp is not intended to develop Malawi, but to achieve food security.
Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) executive director Edward Chilima said the economic think-tank recommends programmes that will change mindset of citizens from small-scale subsistence farming to medium and large-scale farming.
Ecama, through its patron Thom Mpinganjira, is also on record as having called for an exit of the programme it observed was not sustainable and exerted pressure on the budget.
In a situation report on Fisp Logistics dated January 5 2016, the indication is that 76 percent of contracted fertiliser, including 12 500 metric tons of the Farm Input Loan Programme (Filp), has been delivered to Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) depots.
However, the delivered quantity is far behind schedule. Almost three weeks ago, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza met all the 12 suppliers in Blantyre where they pledged to complete all deliveries by December 31.
In an interview on the way forward, Chiyembekeza, who was in Karonga, said: “I have not yet seen the final report because I am in Karonga, but I am sure it is on my desk, so I will give you the responses and way forward tomorrow once I get to the office.”
This year’s Fisp has been marred by all kinds of hiccups ranging from late coupon production and distribution, fertiliser suppliers threatening to bow out due to kwacha depreciation which also affected the purchase of fertiliser.n