Small scale farmers want government to restructure the agriculture subsidy scheme – farmer input support programme (FISP).

The central bank has advised government to cancel farming input subsidies, citing that the facility is unsustainable and an obstacle to the country’s economic growth.

However, the National Union for Small-scale Farmers Association of Zambia (NUSFAZ) says the programme should be reengineered to target the intended beneficiaries.

Statistics indicate that most small-scale farmers benefit from FISP.

Dr Frank Kayula, NUSFAZ President says eliminating the programme will negatively affect the country’s agricultural productivity and food security.

He called upon government to cautiously design an effective and sustainable programme.

“What we need is to ensure that any agricultural subsidies increase productivity, efficiency and global competitiveness.

“Government must ensure that the programme is redesigned, especially with the current challenge of inequitable targeting of fertiliser distribution, low crop-response rates, and crowding of commercial farmers as the programme is meant for small-scale farmers, who are the major producer of food in the country,” Dr Kayula said.

The Union’s view is that scrapping the subsidies could plunge agriculture performance, currently one of leading sector of the economy.

Dr Kayula said if well-handled, FISP could help build a stronger agricultural sector, feed the hungry, produce surpluses for export and pull millions of the rural poor out of poverty.