Africa-Press – Zambia. Agriculture Minister Mtolo Phiri has maintained that the distribution of fertilizer for the 2022/23 farming season will commence this week despite the cancellation of the fertilizer procurement tender last week.
Mr. Mtolo said that despite the remaining limited time, guidelines will strictly be adhered to and has assured stakeholders not to worry about concerns of lack of transparency, as government cannot take procedures for granted in its procurement exercises.
Mr. Mtolo said that there are many ways of procuring a service or goods, one of them being the open tender which he says is the best and transparent as it gives chance to all players to participate, but stated that due to anomalies faced with the open tender system, the government has opted for the selective tender system.
Mr. Mtolo said that the new system system will help cut on time and further disclosed that the process is currently underway to ensure distribution goes on as planned.
Last week, the Zambia Public Procurement of Authority (ZPPA) announced the cancellation of the fertilizer supply tender for the 2022/2023 farming season which was recently awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture saying the process was flawed.
Meanwhile, Farmers, who are on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) in Chipangali District, have appealed to government to allow them access inputs for the next two years before being weaned.
The farmers say they have been caught unaware by government’s plan to remove them from FISP to create space for new beneficiaries. The famers are saying they can only be ready to stand on their own if they remain on FISP for the next two years.
One of the farmers, Mark Banda, from Chief Chinunda’s area said government should have informed farmers before weaning them off FISP. Mr. Banda said famers may not participate in farming activities if they are removed from FISP unexpectedly, which may affect the maize production for the 2022/2023 farming season.
“We have heard that only those farmers who are new are the only ones who will get inputs under FISP. We want to plead with government to give us just two years so that we prepare before we are weaned,” he said.
Others even said that they also heard that those who were benefitting from Social Cash Transfer (SCT) would also be removed from FISP. And Chipangali District Commissioner, Paul Sakala said it was not true that individuals who were benefitting from Social Cash Transfer (SCT) would not get inputs under FISP.
Mr Sakala said government would take care of everyone, saying it would always engage its people whenever there was a change of policy direction. He said government would not make any programme which was not clear to the people, adding that what was currently going on was the registration of new farmers.
“As far as I am concerned, I never got any pronouncement from the Ministry of Agriculture in that line saying only these will benefit. The only statement which came from the Minister was in line with the registration of new farmers,” Mr. Sakala said.
He observed that all the farmers would benefit from FISP and emphasized that Block Extension Officers should ensure every new farmer was registered, adding that old farmers were already in the system.