Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Bob Sichinga has announced that the farmer contribution to FISP has been increased from K50 to K100 and further announced that farmers would be weaned off FISP.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba in a statement issued to QFM News today says weaning off farmers without alternative programmes will in turn see many more households slide into the social security safety net category and ultimately increase expenditures on social welfare schemes.
Mr Zimba points out that already in the current season maize production declined partly due to poor handling of FISP by government.
He explains that providing support to poor rural farmers in form of agricultural inputs is not a subsidy but a mandatory responsibility on the part of Government, adding that to run away from this responsibility without providing an alternative condemns the farmers to untold poverty and misery and puts the agriculture sector as a whole on a dangerous path.
The ZNFU president says government cannot afford to reduce FISP or indeed wean off farmers from FISP without an alternative institutional framework to support small scale farmers countrywide.
Mr Zimba says the Union makes itself available to work with Government to providing solutions as to the way forward if consulted upon.
He adds that it is in the interest of the Union to see to it that Zambian farmers continue producing enough food for the country and also prosper as practitioners in their own farming business and that the Union is convinced that this is equally the desire of the Government as well.
He further states that Zambian farmers do not need long lectures about how good or bad the subsidies are.
Mr Zimba says farmers must not be made to feel guilty for receiving subsidies in order to produce food for every citizen.