MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
THE National Union of Small-Scale Farmers Association of Zambia (NUSSFZ) has implored the Ministry of Agriculture not to spare extension workers where there are â€˜ghostâ€™ farmers on the list of beneficiaries because they are in charge of the lists in their areas of operation.
NUSSFZ president Frank Kayula, who urged Government to come up with stringent measures in the registration of beneficiaries of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to curb â€˜ghostâ€™ farmers, said there is need to ensure extension officers are transparent in the registration of beneficiaries of FISP.
And NUSSFZ has commended Government for removing 20,000 ghost farmers from FISP and urged it to step up the process.
â€œGovernment must punish extension officers whenever they find ghost farmers on the list of beneficiary farmers. It is the extension farmers who are contributing to the increase in ghost farmers in the FISP,â€ he said.
Dr Kayula said the Ministry of Agriculture must collaborate with farmer organisations to ensure that the rightful beneficiaries are registered.
He said there is also need to come up with a proper way of identifying farmers who are eligible for the programme.
Dr Kayula said most of the beneficiaries of the FISP did not meet the criteria of beneficiaries from the programme.
â€œI feel we need to distinguish small-scale farmers from ordinary villagers. Most the beneficiaries on the FISP are not small-scale farmers but just villagers who own small fields,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Kayula said the FISP clean-up exercise will go a long way in improving the welfare of small-scale farmers in the country.
He said small-scale farmers will now be able to increase their level of productivity as they will easily access the inputs.
â€œThe clean-up exercise means that eligible farmers, who are mostly small- scale, receive the right inputs. It will also curb the corruption in the procurement of inputs,â€ Dr Kayula said.
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka