A fresh recommendation has been made to the government to consider reviewing objectives of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) to determine whether it should target productive poor farmers, while linking less productive farmers to other social protection programmes.
A Policy Brief jointly prepared by the UKaid’s Centre for Development Management (CDM) and the Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum) suggests an overhaul of the programme.
The brief was issued recently and combines the findings of two independent studies looking at the implementation of the 2016/17 Fisp.
Among other things, it suggests removing the tendering process to allow the private sector operate openly within fertiliser markets.
“A pre-qualification assessment of companies to select a smaller set would still be necessary,” the statement reads.
The brief further calls on government to ensure transparency in the implementation of Fisp-related activities at all levels by, among other things, conducting public forum beneficiary list validation exercises and displaying beneficiary lists in convenient places within communities.
It says, given the challenges farmers face in accessing credit, the government should consider developing a sustainable farm input credit facility in conjunction with Fisp and social support programmes such as the Public Works Programme, to target productive farmers.
Fum President, Alfred Kapichira-Banda, confirmed the findings, saying the programme’s impact has remained minimal to the economy.
“All this is to ensure that the programme has substantial impact in changing people’s livelihoods and, at the same time, having higher economic gains to the nation,” he said.
The subsidy programme was introduced in the 2005/06 agricultural season, following severe food shortages in the 2004/05 season.
Its objective has been to help poor, smallholder households achieve food self-sufficiency and higher incomes, through increased maize and legume production, by increasing access to improved agricultural inputs, mainly fertilisers and improved seeds.
But, with less impact, Fisp beneficiaries remained largely unchanged between 2005/06 and 2015/16, when the government introduced reforms that were implemented during the 2016/17 agricultural season.