TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
INDABA Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) has advised Government to reduce on funding the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) and Food Reserve Agency (FRA) because the programmes have not made sufficient contribution to agricultural diversification despite getting huge resources.
Given the sensitivities around subsidies, the institute recommends cost-effective alternatives that will not burden the treasury, but still help achieve sustainable agricultural growth and poverty reduction.
According to a paper by IAPRI dubbed “Achieving more with less: reform and scaling down of FRA & FISP and boosting social protection”, maintaining the status quo is likely to be very costly given that the country can no longer afford the continued financial outflow from the current operations of the FISP and FRA.
“The Government needs to make bold decisions and implement reforms that will have more far-reaching positive impacts in the agriculture sector. Scaling back FISP and FRA is the right thing to do.
“Fiscal space created by reductions in expenditure on these programmes should be used to invest in higher return social protection alternatives that can deliver many of the objectives that FISP and FRA were intended to deliver,” the report reads.
The institute further proposes three alternative programmes that Government can invest in, to deliver on its objectives of reducing poverty, supporting and creating a sustainable market for farmers and their products.