FISP REVISION

We have seen lots of proposals to revise the Farm Input Subsidy Program. (FISP). Significantly higher prices for the beneficiaries seem to be the most viable concept that streams out of Capital Hill. But, wait a minute, for whom was the FISP intended? For the middle income farmers who can afford to pay MK3000 for a bag of fertilizer? NO, three times NO! It was intended for the poorest, who cannot afford the fertilizer but who need to eat anyway. The ones left behind by the privatization schemes of Muluzi, who bent without criticism for the SAP (Structural Adjustment through cutbacks on social programs Program) of the Bretton Woods International Capitalists. The people who were working hard but not reaping because they were outcasts of the profit based Reagan-Thatcherite thinking of the horrible 80s, that reached Malawi only in the 90s. Bingu, for all his faults, had an idea that the poor farmer would not have to suffer under this rich man’s thinking. He subsidized the inputs and to every capitalist’s surprise: it worked! Food security, maize surplus, poverty reduction, equality, we improved BIG time. Then, unfortunately, in his second term Bingu lost direction and he allowed all his cronies and a lot of others to practice large scale corruption, which undermined every government program and every private business in the country, and he wiped out all the gains he had made during his first term. Now let’s get back to the original success: zero tolerance on corruption, combined with a social program was the recipe for economic success, and many international prizes (that were later retracted when he started trampling on our human rights and constitutional rights.) But let us see it clearly: the program worked before it got undermined by corruption. So, why not reform it with a large scale PRESIDENTIAL anti-corruption program?

Subsidized fertilizerThe price of fertilizer had risen because the price of oil (the raw material for fertilizer) had gone up. This pushed up the cost of FISP. But now the price of oil is way down. Fertilizer is affordable on the international market. Still the cost of FISP is unaffordable, because of the corrupt people that steal at every level. I personally have observed bags of fertilizer in the corridors of ADMARC. Does any one of you readers believe these bags were there to be distributed, or do you believe these bags were tapped off by unscrupulous ADMARC employees? We all know that even the honorable (?) Minister Patricia K has gone out to the field to steal fertilizer for her cronies, and even though that was reported in the Daily Times, authorities did not act on it. If we just cut out the rot, and leave the distribution of fertilizer to the private sector instead of the notoriously corrupt ADMARC, and we make any corruption in FISP a total priority in the prosecution policy, we can make the project work, make it affordable and APM (Arthur Peter Mutharika) can follow his brother’s footsteps in collecting international awards for food security and poverty reduction. And PLEEAASE, do not let the program go down the drain in corruption this time around, keep it clean. For the sake of the poor and the smallholder farmer.

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