Tag: Peasant farmers

The ongoing debate about whether to abolish or keep FISP

The ongoing debate about whether to abolish or keep FISP Featured

It is very important to understand what we want to achieve with FISP. This requires looking at two critical components of the intended purpose and assessing whether they achieve it or not.

Before proceeding with the initial intended objectives, we need to pose this question: is FISP aimed at increasing crop production or is it a poverty alleviation programme, such as social cash transfer, to support vulnerable peasant farmers and their families to ensure food security?

The FISP guidelines, which also mention that farmers should graduate after three years of being on the programme to medium-scale farmers, indicate that the programme was intended to enhance crop production and facilitate the progression of farmers from peasantry to small-scale, then medium-scale, and finally to commercial farming.

Let’s assess the practicality of its intended objective. If a farmer receives six bags of fertiliser per year at K1,000 per bag, then the assistance at a monthly average is K500 per month. With this level of support for direct input only – ignoring all other production costs and personal responsibilities – is it practical that such support can graduate a farmer from peasantry to commercial farming? Unless a miracle happens the farmer will permanently remain in the peasantry category. This explains why farmers have remained on the programme for prolonged periods beyond three years. If FISP was intended to grow crop production then it was ill structured and should be canned.

However, a positive unintended consequence of FISP is that it provides government support to peasant farmers who comprise the biggest segment of our maize production, but cannot afford fertiliser due to its high cost. Effectively, peasant farmers plant crops for their own consumption and sell the excess production to commercial players in order to generate income to sustain their livelihoods, including paying school fees and medical bills and meeting family needs. These farmers don’t qualify for commercial loans because they aren’t creditworthy. So, in a nutshell, with unintended consequences FISP is actually a social protection programme and not a crop production growth strategy. It should be classified in the same category as social cash transfer.

So before we say scrap or keep FISP, we need to understand these dynamics. And most importantly, before farmers are removed for being on the programme for more than three years, we need to understand that given the meagre support of six bags a year, it is impractical for peasant farmers to graduate to higher categories, including commercial levels, because the support received is insignificant. If anything, this is a segment which has a low crop yield per acre because at its best it is an ox driven, rain fed method of agriculture, and at its worst a hoe and rain fed method of crop production. If the support is removed it will just increase poverty levels in rural areas.

In conclusion, FISP should be maintained as a social protection programme. If scrapped, food security for our vulnerable peasant farmers will be compromised. What the government should do is clean up the FISP database and ensure the correct, vulnerable people are kept on the programme.

With regard to enhancing food production, it is necessary to come up with a totally new strategy driven by enabling policies. Most importantly, credit support should be readily available at affordable interest rates. Technical support and access to mechanised farming should be at the centre of this initiative, including irrigation rather than rain-fed methods.

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

‘Real Democracy’ entails People Taking Power, says Musumali

‘Real Democracy’ entails People Taking Power, says Musumali Featured

MARKETEERS, peasant farmers, a chicken seller, hairdressers, unemployed trained teachers, and a mobile money booth agent who also sells tomatoes and fish, were among the 37 parliamentary and council adoptees presented to the world recently at Kingfisher Garden Court in Lusaka.

And Socialist Party general secretary and first vice-president Dr Cosmas Musumali praised them as representing “real democracy”.

“These are the men and women who are committed to and live in their constituencies,” he said. “This is real democracy, and real democracy entails people taking power into their own hands. Democracy can never be delegated.”

Dr Musumali said the Socialist Party was proving to the world that women and men could represent the values of equity in action.
“We are proving to the world that how much money you have is not a determinant for you to get into political office,” Dr Musumali said.
“We are proving to everyone today that age can never be limiting, in terms of you governing yourselves.”

Out of the 37 candidates, there were 34 parliamentary candidates, and three hoping to be Lusaka councillors.

“We have a total of 18 men and 19 women,” Dr Musumali said. “We don’t just talk about gender equity, we practise it as the Socialist Party.”
He said there was one candidate from Northern Province, one from Copperbelt Province, two from Muchinga, 10 from Luapula, six from Southern Province, five from Central, one from North-Western, five from Eastern, one from Western, and five from Lusaka.

“Out of these candidates, 15 are below the age of 30,” Dr Musumali said.

Separately, party president Fred M’membe told the candidates that it was time for the poor to rule both themselves and Zambia. He said poverty would not end if the poor did not take control in the August elections and reminded people how the rich, who owned other parties, had backed leaders who had exploited the poor ever since independence.

He said it was important to educate the poor who had previously voted for people with wealth to instead vote for themselves this time.

Parliamentary adoptees are: Levy Songiso (Sikongo), Janet Zimba (Lumezi), Misozi Kaleya (Chasefu), Lovemore Mvula (Kaumbwe), Edna Lungu (Luangeni), Alice Phiri (Msanzala), Precious Samalesu (Ikeleng’i), Oswald Chikwaba (Serenje), Simon Bwalya (Bwacha), Peggy Siamundele (Mumbwa), Laston Chibuye (Muchinga), Jonathan Katoota (Lufubu), Fitzwell Moomba (Chikankata), Carolijne Simwala (Namwala), Victor Siamulonga (Mapatizya), Teinson Musanje (Kalomo), Chilema Caesar Machila (Bweengwa), Gertrude Chikampa (Sinazongwe), Astridah Mubanga (Chipili), Clara Chomba (Mansa Central), Cleopatra Mweemba (Bahati), Hope Kalenge (Milenge), John Chenge Kasanda (Pambashe), Miriam Mwewa (Chifunabuli), Margaret Nakanga (Mwense), Justine Ngosa (Mwansabombwe), Charles Friday Kalumba (Chembe), Jackson Mukupa (Nchelenge), Purity Ng’ambi (Chama North), Agness Mwila (Mfuwe), Lilian Matowe (Kafulafuta), and Lewis Chizu (Mpulungu).

Parliamentary candidates for Lusaka are Henry Kalolo (Mandevu) and Eucridy Mwiinga (Chirundu), while local government candidates for Lusaka are Newton Ng’ambi (Mwembeshi, ward 27), Ronald Mutale (Matero, ward 28), and Treza Kayanda (Muchinga, ward 24).