Thursday, July 08, 2010

IFDC officer advises African nations against fertilizer subsidies

IFDC officer advises African nations against fertilizer subsidies
By Mutale Kapekele
Thu 08 July 2010, 04:00 CAT

AFRICA should not encourage fertilizer subsidies as they disturb agribusiness development, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) programmes manager Balu Bumb has said. Zambia has in the last couple of years run a dysfunctional fertilizer support programme for small scale farmers.

IFDC is a public international organization addressing critical issues such as international food security, the alleviation of global hunger and poverty, environmental protection and the promotion of economic development and self-sufficiency.

In an interview in Dar es Salaam on Friday, Bumb said African governments should focus on increasing productivity across the agricultural value chain and not fertilizer subsidies.

“Subsidies disturb the market. It means that markets will not work if all governments go for subsidies,” Bumb said. “Those in the trade of making fertilizer will not do it as they will be making losses. There will be much inefficiency in the supply market because even those who import have to pay tax and port fees.”

He said agriculture market development was necessary for improving food security and advised governments that were subsidizing fertilizer to consider giving vouchers to the farmers as opposed to subsidizing the products.

“Support the people not the product through subsidies and good fertilizer. Commercial farmers don’t need subsidies,” he said.

“Focus on giving vouchers to support farmers. Then you are not disturbing the market. Malawi took a bold step and targeted 1.5 million farmers, vouchers were distributed for two bags of fertilizer and 10 kgs improved seed. Fertilizer was subsidized by 70 per cent. The impact was increased maize production and food security. But this also created the dependency syndrome which again has a negative impact on market development.”

Bumb also said the fertilizer support programme in Zambia did not have the capacity to work as most of the beneficiaries were people who did not need subsidized fertilizer, adding that the programme reduced competitiveness of the agricultural market.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home