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Fisp coupons ‘delay’ again

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Coupons for this year’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) are yet to arrive in the country despite the government saying the coupons would be in the country by September 18.

According to Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, the Ministry of Agriculture informed the committee that the coupons would be in by Monday this week.

“This is one of the issues we complained about last time, when the programme also delayed. This year, we had hope that the programme would start early but it has not. This is due to poor planning.

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“We were told that coupons were supposed to be in the country by September 18; we are yet to talk to the ministry to find out whether this deadline has been met or not,” he said.

However, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson, Osborne Tsoka, played down the issue, saying the first consignment of coupons will arrive in the country next week.

“As I am talking to you, the first consignment of the coupons has left the UK but because they come through connected flights we are expecting them the very last week of September. It has not been a delay per say. What we said was that, September 18, 2017 was the day the coupons were supposed to depart from the UK,” Tsoka said.

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Last year, implementation of Fisp was erratic and, by December, way into the farming season, some beneficiaries were yet to receive coupons as well as inputs.

In other parts of the country, some people only had coupons while inputs were delivered late or not at all, rendering the programme almost useless.

Tsoka, however, said distribution of the coupons is expected to commence during the first week of October.

“When they [coupons] arrive this month end, we hope to start distributing them the first two weeks of October because, around that time, the markets [for inputs] will be opened as well,” he said.

But when asked to disclose the list of companies that have been awarded contracts to distribute subsidised inputs, Tsoka only said there are 14 companies but could not disclose the names.

“I do not have the full report [which has names of companies]. But what I can tell you is that 14 companies have been awarded contracts in the interim,” he said.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee on Agriculture expressed concern over some companies that were on the list presented to the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Office of the Director of Public Procurement.

This year 900, 000 people are expected to benefit from the programme.

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