THE distribution of farm inputs under the Farmers Input Support Programme (FISP) has been a big success this year since the programme was introduced, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda has observed.

He paid tribute to the private sector for its commitment to ensuring that the Government’s FISP programme was efficiently managed to the satisfaction of farmers across the country.

Mr Lubinda said although a comprehensive assessment report had not yet been submitted to his office, preliminary reports were to the effect that the FISP project had helped many small-scale and rural peasant farmers transform their lives.

He told the Daily Nation that Government was impressed with the response from the private sector in helping Government implement the FISP programme and that it was important that the collaboration between the Government and the private sector should always be encouraged to blossom.

Mr Lubinda said there shall be an evaluation to assess how FISP had performed from the time the programme was introduced but stressed the fact that many rural families had exponentially benefited from the programme.

He said although there had been some delays in the distribution of fertilizer and seed in Northern and Luapula provinces, farmers were able to access the inputs in time.

He explained that the FISP Programme had never been as successful as it had been this farming season and appealed to private institutions that have partnered with Government in the distribution of inputs to continue working ahead of schedule to avoid any form of delays and inconveniences.

“Government is through its partners yet to conduct a thorough assessment of the success of the FISP programme. But preliminary reports are that the FISP programme has never been as successful as it has been this year. In fact the distribution of fertilizer and seed has been the most successful since.

‘‘By and large, the inputs were delivered and distributed before the end of 2015. Farmers had received both Compound D and urea fertilizer as well as seed well in good time and as Government we are pleased that we are meeting the needs of our farmers,” Mr Lubunda said.

And Mr Lubinda has revealed that Government has been receiving appeals from the rural farming community requesting Government to consider increasing the farm input packs because of increased number of hectarage they were cultivating.

Mr Lubinda said farmers had expressed confidence in the FISP programme and its implementation and had been appealing to Government to increase funding to the programme.

Mr Lubinda said with the introduction of the E-Voucher system which has seen the elimination of more than 15 000 ghost farmers, Government would be able to save resources to meet the farmers’ request.

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