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Revise input subsidy programmes – USAID

KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says input subsidy programmes (ISPs) should be revised to promote and improve smallholder farmers’ access to technologies that will increase yields and resilience.
The agency says with the current climatic challenges, it is important that ISPs focus on areas that promote climate smartness of ISPs in Africa by moving towards the development of legumes and other crops that are drought-tolerant.
According to the latest USAID Policy Synthesis report entitled ‘Can input subsidy programmes promote climate-smart agriculture in Africa?’ , the agency said many ISPs currently focus on staple cereal crops and inorganic fertilisers hence the need to include legumes and other crops.
The report also says for ISPs to have a more system-wide effect on cropping systems and management practices, seed system constraints for other crops must be addressed.
“ISPs provide a potentially useful means of encouraging system coordination and farmer behaviour that increase agricultural productivity and contribute to resilience objectives in Africa,” the report says.
It says ISPs are capable of serving several catalytic functions at a system-level, which can support climate-smart agriculture (CSA) objectives.
The report, however, observed that ISPs can achieve little without coordinated public and private investments in areas such as site-specific adaptive research and extension, which are necessary to turn potential CSA practices into profitable and adoptable farm management strategies.

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