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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Stop Fisp all together

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Malawi has been growing perhaps in a spiral way, especially in the post-one-party era due to either lack of proper policy implementation or poor crafting of its policies.

Malawi has emerged from a number of years of food crisis in the early 2000s.

And it is most likely that the trend will continue in the subsequent years to come as the country faces multiple natural hazards such as floods, heavy storms, droughts, dry spells and so forth as a result of climate change.

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These crises coupled with widespread poverty lead to severe hunger in most households of the country, forcing citizens to sleep on an empty stomach.

And as one way of breaking the cycles of food insecurity in the country, government introduced Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp).

But provision of subsidies in food security and also free primary school education serve as examples of programmes that were initiated without proper scrutiny.

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While the idea of subsidy is a good one, the way it is done in Malawi fails to make real sense.

No wonder, year in year out the Fisp is met with the same self-inflicted challenges such as delays in inputs disbursement to beneficiaries due to logistics hiccups and excessive corruption in the programme’s operations.

Without undermining, Parliamentary Agriculture Committee Chairperson Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, what the country does not admit is that Fisp is a hopeless programme and surely authorities circumvent this truth for obvious political reasons.

But truth be told, when all is said and done about how this year the programme will be improved – something unlikely to happen, no sane government across the world subsidises consumption directly; if anything it subsidises commercial production to ensure subsidised consumption. Subsidising subsistence agriculture, which is for purposes of consumption only is a futile exercise.

It is a huge drain of government’s meagre resources and facilitates corruption. The hard truth is that there is no future to food security if government continues to subsidise subsistence agriculture.

Unfortunately, there is no political will to stop this futile exercise and embark on a more serious and sensible policy option.

Reason? There is unfounded fear of loss of short-term electoral popularity.

But government should get rid of Fisp for the good of the country.

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