Fertilizer Subsidy Program Slowing Farmers, Production in Zambia

Fertilizer Subsidy Program Slowing Farmers, Production in Zambia

From The Guardian

Zambia‘s decision to spend 90% of its agricultural budget on subsidies has left little money for activities that generate a greater impact on agricultural growth and poverty reduction.

Florence Chipwende, a farmer, was elated to discover in October last year that the ministry of agriculture had designated four bags of subsidised fertiliser for her under the farmer input support programme (Fisp). However, they arrived a month after the rains started and, as a result, her maize was planted four weeks late.

Although the initiative enabled Chipwende to boost her maize production from 30 bags last year to 34 in 2013, the delay knocked 20% off her anticipated production.

She is not alone. Year after year, roughly a third of Fisp recipients in Zambia receive their fertiliser late. In the past five years, the benefits of the programme have not exceeded the costs borne by the government. Recent research (pdf) by Zambia’s Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (Iapri) estimates that every kwacha (11p) spent on Fisp has returned less in benefits (0.9 kwacha) to farmers and consumers.

Read more at guardian.co.uk