Transform FISP into farmers’ credit bank – FARMERS

Zambian farmer Inonge Mubanga Samboko
FARMERS in Kabwe District have appealed to the Government to transform the Farm Input Support Programme (FISP) into a Farmers’ credit bank.

Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Times, Cyprian Hamilemba and Conrad Hamilemba said financial resources given to farmers through FISP could effectively be used and improve household and national food security if they were applied as agricultural loans to deserving farmers.
Cornad, who has been a farmer since 1975, said the current FISP system was subject to many abuses as many people who were not supposed to access it benefited from FISP.
Cyprian, who has been in farming business since 1999, argued that the current FISP arrangement and application were susceptible to abuse that rendered the whole system uneconomical and, therefore,
unbeneficial to farmers and the national economy.
Cyprian said out of 100 x 50kilogramme bags of fertiliser, only about 44 reached the intended beneficiaries, leaving 66 bags vulnerable to some civil servants and some commercial farmers.
Cornad said even the current barter system arrangement where farmers would have an option of exchanging their maize harvests for 50kilogrammes bags of fertiliser was less economical than when such bags were exchanged for maize under the agricultural loans.
Cornad said if FISP could be transformed into a farmers’ credit bank the way Lima Bank was, there could be a provision where each 50kilogramme bag of fertiliser a farmer could get as loan, and that farmer paid three or four 50kilogramme bags of maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) which could be a more economical use of Government resources.
Both Hamilembas argued that the current high unemployment and poverty levels were because previous governments didn’t have the right policies on how best to improve agricultural business in the country.
They cited uneconomical use of Government resources such as FISP and inadequate and costly credit facilities as among obstacles to profitable agricultural business in the country.
“Without a farmer, there can be no food, and without food, there can be no life,” Cyprian said.
Cyprian wondered why some international supermarkets operating in Zambia were selling vegetables and fruits from neighbouring countries when local farmers could supply most of these farm produce locally.
Cyprian said such an approach in economic management created jobs in other countries, while allowing local nationals to wallow in high poverty levels.
Cyprian appealed to the PF Government to put the interests of small-scale farmers as first priority in its management of public affairs.
He said small-scale farmers contributed highly to household and national food security, adding that without such farmers, Zambia’s household and national food security would be at stake.

Farmers encouraged to own assets

KABWE District Co-operative Union (KDCU) has urged small-scale farmers to work hard in their farming business and own assets that would alleviate high poverty levels among farmers.
Speaking when closing the farmers’ open day in Kabwe District’s Mutwe wa Nsofu area recently, Mr Gabriel Ngosa said poverty was a bad thing which could not be allowed to continue.
“Poverty is a bad thing. Don’t allow yourself to be in poverty for a long time. We should work hard to improve our living standards,” Mr Ngosa urged his fellow farmers.
Mr Ngosa appealed to small and medium-scale farmers to own assets such as livestock, tractors and land which were important in farming.
He said KDCU had started acquiring assets like two tractors to assist farmers prepare land to grow more food and have a surplus to sell for more money in farmers’ pockets.
Mr Ngosa said small and medium-scale farmers should use their incomes from livestock and crop sales wisely to buy assets and property that could help reduce poverty levels among farmers.
He urged the farmers not to allow foreigners to buy large chunks of land in their respective areas as land was an important means of production for one to make progress in business.

Laziness spurs poverty, say Kabwe brothers

SOME residents of Kabwe District have observed that laziness breeds unemployment and creates high poverty levels and a dependence syndrome in the country.
Conrad Hamilemba and Cyprian Hamilemba charged that laziness among many Zambians had led to high unemployment and poverty in the country, leading to many people asking the Government for employment and support.
Cyprian said laziness created a dependence syndrome which deprived the Government of implementing development because most of the resources were directed towards supporting lazy people who did not want to work.
Conrad said the country had vast fertile land and wondered why most people were crowded in towns and cities without going back to the land for self-employment to improve their lives.
“Why do we see high urbanisation and crowded towns and cities in our country when we have vast unoccupied land in many rural areas which could be used for farming to improve on many people’s lives?” Conrad asked.
The Hamilemba brothers appealed to the Patriotic Front (PF) Government to come up with practical strategies to decongest towns and cities through a renewed ‘Go back to the land’ campaign.

KDCU urges co-operative support

KABWE District Co-operative Union (KDCU) has appealed to the Government to increase support to the co-operative movement to alleviate poverty in rural areas, while government says it believes that co-operatives movement can be used as engine for economic development of any country.
Speaking during KDCU open day in Kabwe District’s Mutwe wa Nsofu area, Gabriel Ngosa said KDCU faced a lot of challenges due to inadequate support and extension services from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry.
He also said inadequate training in co-operative society and business management-related knowledge impeded effective and efficient running of the co-operative movement in the country.
Mr Ngosa further said inadequate agricultural credit to small and medium-scale farmers and co-operative societies negatively affected the performance of most farmers and their co-operative societies.
He said other challenges small-scale farmers and co-operative societies faced were difficulties in accessing credit facilities because of high interest rates.
He said if the co-operative movement could be well-supported, such farmers’ institutions could create more jobs in rural areas through improved crop and animal husbandry which could lead to value-addition through farm produce processing.
Mr Ngosa appealed to the Government and co-operating partners to consider the plight of the co-operative movement in the country.
He said the Government and co-operating partners should not judge the performance of the co-operatives in the country from the mistakes of the past co-operative societies in the First and Second Republics.
Mr Ngosa said in the recent past, the bumper harvest the country recorded and the vegetables and some fruits that were sold in towns and cities were produced by co-operative society members throughout the country, adding that this proved that co-operative societies were no longer fertiliser co-operatives they were perceived to be in the past.
Mr Ngosa appealed to other co-operative societies in the district to emulate what co-operative societies in the Mutwe wa Nsofu had done to share experiences and lessons generated from its activities.
And agricultural co-ordinator (PACO), Paul Chisulo said the PF Government under the leadership of, President Michael Sata was aware of the significant role the co-operative movement played in improving household and national food security, development of the agricultural sector and the nation at large.
Mr Chisulo said it was against this background that the PF Government had put in place a lot of development measures such as the formulation and approval of the National Co-operative Development Policy and the review of Co-operative Society Act N0. 20 of 1998, adding that all these are aimed at strengthening the co-operative movement in the country.
The PACO through the principal agricultural officer, Elizabeth Chuma, said it was from this background that the PF Government, during the 2012/13 farming season, had taken a deliberate policy to engage co-operative societies under the private-public partnership in agricultural input supply to transport agricultural inputs in their respective operational areas.
Ms Chuma acknowledged that the recent past bumper harvests would not have been possible without the huge contribution small-scale farmers through their co-operative societies.
She said the Government commended the co-operative movement for its efforts in promoting household and national food security and job creation in rural areas.