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Farmers duped on Fisp coupons

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By Faith Kamtambe:

Some farmers who were earmarked to benefit from the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) did not access the inputs, The Daily Times has established.

Some of the farmers have complained that they did not receive coupons yet their names were on the list of beneficiaries.

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Dowa-based Benamu Kanyenje, who represented small holder farmers in the district, said he, with others, were listed as beneficiaries but were not given anything.

“Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture at the Extension Planning Area (EPA) and other officials sat down and agreed to take some coupons [meant for farmers] away. They manipulated the list [of beneficiaries] and took the coupons instead of the farmers. Anumber of us did not benefit from the programme,” he said.

Kanyenje said over 2, 000 coupons were found with an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development at Mponela EPA.

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Some reports indicate that during the time the ministry imposed a ban on Fisp for consolidation processes, some business persons bought coupons from farmers after convincing them that the government had suspended the programme altogether.

The ministry’s spokesperson Hamilton Chimala said, after noting some anomalies, the ministry suspended some officials.

He, however, said 99 percent of the targeted farmers received coupons and benefitted from the programme.

“We had people going everywhere monitoring the processes. Police officers were part of the exercise. That is why, after noting some anomalies, we instituted a temporary ban and some workers were suspended and are answering charges. We also gathered that farmers, not more than 100, for one reason or another did not access the coupons and that is why we extended the programme for an additional four days to accommodate those,” he said.

The 2018/19 Fisp Programme targeted 1,000,000 farming households. According to the Ministry, this is higher by 100,000 beneficiaries when compared to 900,000 farming households that benefited during the 2017/18 farming season.

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