Nkulukusa scraps legumes from FISP
SECRETARY to the Treasury, Felix Nkulukusa has unilaterally removed legumes from the Farmer Input Support Programm (FISP), a move which is likely to angered small scale farmers in rural areas.
The decision by Mr. Nkulukusa, according to sources from the Ministry of Agriculture would exclude crops such as groundnuts and soya seed from the FISP in the coming farming season.
“The FISP program is a vital tool for alleviating poverty especially for the poor rural farmers. Hence it must be kept in its diversified form, to support all crops including maize, groundnuts & Soya seed. Legumes help meet nutritional needs of our rural poor who cannot afford other proteins like beef on their tables. These crops also enhance food security and broaden farmer’s income sources,” said Alfred Makumba, a Mkushi farmer.
According to Mr. Makumba the failure by the FISP program to support legumes may lead companies that depend on these crops like cooking oil making companies to be adversely affected.
“In short all industries that depend on legumes will be adversely affected leading to massive job loses- the entire value chain will collapse. It’s against this background that we’re concerned with the behavior of the Secretary to the Treasury for deciding to exclude all legumes from this year’s budget,” he said.
According to the source, “Mr. Nkulukusa is very stubborn and wants to fix farmers and meanwhile he’s busy giving concessions to rich mining firms? Where are the priorities of this government? He’s working against the President who has been categorical in talking about a diversified Agriculture Support Program (ASP).”
The major problem, according to the source, was that Government was making decisions about the agriculture sector from the Ministry of Finance instead of the ministry responsible of agriculture.
“How feasible is it that technocrats from the Ministry are being ignored and decisions are being made from the Ministry of Finance? this is totally unacceptable,” said the source.
This decision is going to make the government very unpopular especially in rural areas as most farmers depend on these legumes.
“We know that President Hakainde Hichilema means well, and he should reverse this retrogressive decision before it’s late. Even the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is deeply concerned with this development,” the source said.