GOVERNMENT has increased the number of beneficiaries for the 2014/2015 farming season under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) from 900,000 to one million.
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Wylbur Simuusa says the increase is aimed at upping productivity as well as ensuring food security in Zambia.
He said this at Kafue’s Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) plant yesterday at a ceremony to flag off the 2014/2015 countrywide fertiliser distribution exercise under the FISP.
The number of beneficiaries represents an increment of 100,000 compared to the target of the 2013/2014 agricultural season.
“As government, we are determined to ensure that all the farming inputs reach our farmers on time. One of the strategies being employed is to start the input distribution programme early and hence, this official flagging-off we are all witnessing today,” Mr Simuusa said.
“All provincial and district agricultural coordinators and field extension officers countrywide are therefore instructed to ensure that all camp and district agricultural committees are identified by the end of this month,” he said.
Government is also happy that the production of D-compound fertiliser at NCZ is going on well.
It plans to buy 208,235.75 metric tonnes of fertiliser of which 106,409.75 tonnes will be D-compound and 101,826 will be urea.
He said 50,000 metric tonnes of top dressing fertiliser has also been purchased from Saudi Arabia.
The deficit will be met by the private sector to attain the required 106,000 metric tonnes.
Government is happy that NCZ has already produced over 10,300 metric tonnes of D-compound fertiliser.
“This is testimony that government is committed to revamping and supporting operations of NCZ in line with the policy direction of job creation and self-resilience,” he said.
Mr Simuusa also assured farmers in the country that they will receive their farming inputs under FISP by August this year.
Earlier, Patriotic Front (PF) Kafue member of Parliament (MP) Obvious Mwaliteta thanked Government in its efforts to revamp NCZ.
Mr Mwaliteta, who is Central Province minister, said the funds which government is committing towards resuscitating the company have created more job opportunities for the local people in the area.
He also appealed to the residents of Kafue to continue working closely with President Sata and his administration to foster development in the district.
Lusaka Province permanent secretary Wamunyima Muwana said Government will work hard to revive the agriculture sector which is among the drivers of economic growth and food stability.
Mr Muwana said government is keen to boost crop production through timely and efficient distribution of farming input to farmers.