Government insistence to continue with the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) has come under heavy criticism by some economic experts who are saying the programme should be discontinued.
The sentiments by the experts follow an announcement by Britain through the Department for International Development (DfID) that it will be pulling out its support towards the programme effective July 2017.
Dfid has been supporting the programme since its inception in 2005.
An Economic lecturer at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, Ben Kalua said in an interview yesterday that the government should devised an exit strategy a long time ago.
Kalua said it is surprising that the government is insisting on the programme despite evidence that it is not benefitting targeted beneficiaries.
“We should have been working towards exit strategy, we have fumbled and now we are doing things haphazardly. It doesn’t make any economic sense.
“We must move away from subsistence farming and let the commercial farmers do the job. If a cost-benefit analysis is done, it will show that a lot of money is just being pumped into the programme but what is being produced is very little. This has to be addressed as we are doing the exit strategy,” Kalua said.
The inefficiencies and rampant corruption that have characterised Fisp over the last 12 years, according to Kalua, are evidence that something is wrong with the programme and that it is benefiting a selected few.
Chairperson for Agriculture Committee of Parliament Joseph – Chidanti Malunga said his committee is scheduled to present a report in Parliament in April detailing different the programme.
“Others are suggesting that there should be a universal fertiliser programme and another school of thought is that perhaps the government should just reduce the number of beneficiaries while others are proposing that the programme should just be abolished all together. So the house will have to deliberate on these scenarios and probably advise the government accordingly,” Chidanti Malunga said.
During the 2015/16 financial year, the government made some changes in the management of the programme which was fully run by government and now 60 percent of it is being managed by the private sector.
Calculation shows that in the 12 years the programme has been implemented, the government has spent over K280 billion yet every year poor farmers continue to seek relief food from the government because of hunger.
In 2005, the government allocated K2.2 billion for the programme , K5.5 billion in 2006 and K10.7 billion in 2007. The K10.7 billion was slightly more than half of the budget to the Ministry of Agriculture which was at K21 billion and it was 12 percent of the entire national budget.
In 2008, Fisp was allocated K19.4 billion from the ministry’s budget of K32.2 billion which was 14 percent of the national budget. In 2009, Fisp received K17.8 billion with another K1.6 billion for seed while in 2010 the government allocated K19.7 billion and K17.4 billion in 2011. In 2012 government allocated another K40.6 billion for Fisp and K54.4 billion in 2013 while K59.7 billion was allocated in 2014 and K41.5 billion in 2015.