Extra FISP charges illegal – PACO
By Staff Reporter
The Eastern Provincial Agriculture Coordinating Office (PACO) has launched an investigation into reports where cooperative leaders are charging farmers extra money to access government subsidised inputs.
Alex Chilala, the PACO, said according to government policy, a farmer was only supposed to pay K400 in order for them to access inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme.
The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction in Eastern Province had investigated and said that some cooperative leaders from Chipata, Kasenengwa and Chipangali districts were asking farmers to pay an extra K15 for inputs.
“This is under the pretext that it is a requirement from Ministry of Agriculture when in fact not. The extra money that farmers are paying to cooperative leaders has no blessing from my office and that the arrangement is illegal,” said Chilala.
Adrressing journalists bin Chipata on Tuesday, Chilala said his office had information that some camp agriculture committees had agreed to be charging farmers extra money for logistical purposes, when depositing money on behalf of the farmers.
“The situation is worrying because the extra money farmers are paying is high. Reports reaching my office are that some farmers are being asked to be paying extra monies of 50 kwacha towards acquiring inputs,” said Chilala.
“Any extra charge beyond 15 kwacha will be treated as theft, and that cooperative leaders who are involved will be arrested.”