By PETER SICHALI
Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives must increase the number of beneficiaries for the 2019/2020 Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) in Isoka.
Isoka Central Camp Agricultural committee vice chairperson, Benson Simutenda, said the 12,174 people enlisted to benefit from the program was very little as compared to the number of farmers in the district.
Mr Simutenda said Isoka has over 50, 000 youths that would like to venture into agriculture and that FISP would be a good starting point for them hence the need for government to increase the number.
He said farming was a viable business which youths should venture into to sustain their livelihoods and create jobs for others.
“Agriculture is the main economic activity for the district, people grow rice, maize and beans therefore there are so many youths that would want to venture into farming but they do not have capital, and government subsidised inputs would be a good starting point for them,” Mr Simutenda said.
Mr Simutenda said Muchinga Province is blessed with fertile soils and good rains and can feed other province once the number of beneficiaries for farming inputs in the was increased.
He said 41, 000 packs allocated to the province in the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 farming seasons was in inadequate in relation to the number of farmers in the region.
“Our appeal to the government is please give us enough inputs so that more farmers benefit to increase production to feed even other regions that have been receiving good rains the past few seasons, this region is blessed with good rains as well as fertile soils,” Mr Simutenda said.
And Mr Simutenda has appealed to the government to consider delivering farming inputs on time to avoid late planting and application of fertilizer.
He said some farmers last season record poor crop yield due to late application of farming inputs.
Meanwhile, Provincial minister, Malozo Sichone, has assured farmers that the farming inputs are delivered on time.
Mr Sichone said it was government’s desire to deliver farming inputs by September to avoid last year’s incidences in which some farmers received farming inputs as late as January 2019.
“The PF has prioritised agriculture one way of diversifying the economy of the country and it is our desire to ensure that farmers receive inputs by September so that incidences of farmers receiving inputs in January like the case was last season are avoided,” Mr Sichone said.