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Government admits problems in Fisp

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Audrey Kapalamula:

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has conceded facing challenges in the implementation of the 2018/19 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp).

Minister responsible, Joseph Mwanamvekha, said the ministry discovered that there were some ghost villages and beneficiaries in several districts.

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He said some unscrupulous vendors also took advantage of loopholes to buy coupons from farmers.

According to Mwanamvekha, Mangochi, Ntchisi and Machinga had over 3,061 ghost beneficiaries in 13 ghost villages.

He also said the ministry received an outcry that, despite the increase of beneficiaries at national level, the allocation at the village level was still low, a development which led to the temporary suspension of the programme across the country.

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“I am happy to report to you [that] the ministry lifted the suspension and has completed distribution in 19 districts and it is distributing in seven districts while two districts, Likoma and Thyolo, are yet to reconcile the figures. We have also redistributed all the coupons we recovered,” he said

Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Lazarus Chakwera, who sought clarification from the minister, reported to the House that the government registered more people in his area but left out some during distribution.

“I have received calls and messages from the area especially in the area of chief Khongoni [where some] 105 households were identified as beneficiaries. But when officials came, they came with 19 coupons for the Extension Planning Area. I would like to get clarification on what is happening,” he said.

But Mwanamvekha insisted that no coupon had been distributed in the said area, emphasising that Lilongwe District is one of the districts where reconciliation is still taking place.

However, the issue of a reduction in the number of beneficiaries in other areas was also raised in the House, with Member of Parliament for Machinga East, Esther Jolobala, suggesting the setting up of a team to monitor implementation of the programme in areas facing problems.

About one million farmers were earmarked to benefit from the programme.

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