Farmers are concerned with the reported delays in finalizing the procurement processes for the 2022 Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) fertilisers. Most small-scale farmers depend on FISP for farming inputs hence this development is a blow and could spell doom on a sector that is still grappling with the climate change after effects following prolonged dry spells experienced last season.

The fact is rains are just around the corner in some parts of the country and any further delay and lack of clear direction on fertilizer availability will adversely impact on production and productivity for the 2022/2023 farming season. This will lead to diminishing income opportunities, food insecurity and stagnation in the poverty trap for most farmers.

What is even more worrying is that even for locally produced seed, the uncertainty is the same as on Fertilizer which is imported. We would like to appeal to Government to step up and realize that the consequences will be catastrophic for farmers. It is imperative to ensure that farmers have access to seed and fertilizer timely because what is unfolding will result in these inputs being distributed during the rainy season. Of what use will that be?

This state-of-affairs could have been avoided if the roadmap agreed in April was adhered to because back then, the recommendation by the private sector was that the processes be concluded by June 2022. We cannot understand the on-going inertia and farmers are asking! What is the alternative? We urge the Minister of Agriculture to address the farmers on the Fertilizer Procurement developments. In our view, the current FISP mess will require the intervention of the Head of State, Mr. Hakainde

Hichilema, to instill hope and certainty in the minds of farmers as the twists and turns playing out in the public domain makes it difficult to discern the facts. We say so because every day that passes is edging us closer to the farming season. There is no more time to waste.

We appeal to President Hichilema to set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee to handle the issue of the 2022 FISP fertilizer and Seed availability, harness united efforts and coordinate timely delivery. What is happening right now is watching a crisis unfolding but behaving as if there is no crisis. This is unfortunate as farmers livelihoods are at stake.

Source: Zambia National Farmers’ Union