This study assesses the impact on agricultural productivity of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) as well as the impact of credit provided to small-scale farmers by commercial banks. It compares the two strategies by government (i.e. FISP which is a government subsidy programme and government grants to commercial banks for on-ward lending to small-scale farmers). This is to determine which policy intervention is promoting agricultural growth among the targeted farmers. The study hypothesises that subsidies through FISP and credit from private lending institutions allow farmers to have access to production inputs and reduces production costs. This enables farmers to maximise output leading to an increase in productivity and growth.
This study was done by conducting a survey and data was collected using a structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and Ordinary Least Square (OLS) criterion are the methods used and the tool for analysis was the Statistical Package for Social Scientist (SPSS).
Simple random multistage stratified purposive sampling was used in selecting household respondents. Multistage in the sense that the farm settlements were not defined in a particular pattern with house numbers. Stratified purposive sampling in the sense that farmers had to be separated according to the kind of institution they benefited from. The sample size for the study was 140 individual household for small-scale farmers.
Major findings of the study showed that loan beneficiary farmers were investing more in productive assets compared to FISP beneficiary farmers. They had even showed elements of diversification as they were investing more in small livestock such as chickens, goats and pigs unlike the FISP beneficiaries. They had also spent a total of Zambian Kwacha (ZMW) 48, 100 compared to ZMW 28, 462 spent by FISP beneficiaries on productive assets. In terms of investments for assets used in the home, we concluded that both groups had a similar lifestyle but FISP farmers had a higher standard of living compared to loan beneficiary farmers as they had spent 10.6% more in terms of expenditure.
The field plots under cultivation were grouped into three categories, i.e. farmers who cultivated plots below 2.5 hectares, 2.6 hectares to 5.0 hectares and above 5.1 hectares to assess which category of farmers was showing growth in terms of land under cultivation. For the 11% FISP beneficiaries who had graduated from the below 2.5 hectares of land being ploughed to the middle bracket, only 1% of the farmers managed to sustain their increase in ploughed land. There were no farmers who managed to plough above 5.1 hectares of land under the FISP category. As for the loan beneficiary group, we see movement in all three categories indicating growth in terms of productivity. We noticed that from the 4% farmers who managed to graduate from the below 2.5 hectares category to the 2.6 hectares to 5.0 hectares category, a further 3% of the beneficiaries managed to graduate to the above 5.1 hectares of area ploughed.
We determined variability in output by examining its relationship with independent variables such as educational level attained, fertiliser quantity used, maize seed quantity used and access to assets (oxen) ceteris paribus. Only fertiliser and hybrid maize seed use were found to be statistically significant with p-values below 5% and 10% significant levels respectively in both cases. A 1 kilogram (kg) increase in fertiliser and hybrid maize seed use would result in a 0.69% and 0.26% increase respectively in the quantity of 50 kg bags harvested for FISP beneficiary farmers. A 1 kg increase in fertiliser and hybrid maize seed use would result in a 0.83% and 0.11% increase in the quantity of 50 kg bags of maize harvested by the loan beneficiary farmers.
Comparing the two beneficiary groups in terms of productivity and income earned through the sale of maize on the market, the loan beneficiary group was found to be doing far much better compared to the FISP group. In the 2009/10 farming season, the loan group sold a total of 6754 bags of maize compared to 3428 bags sold by the FISP group. In the 2010/11 farming season, the loan group sold 7769 bags as opposed to the 4606 bags sold by the FISP group while in the 2011/12 farming season, the loan group sold a total of 9151 bags of maize on both markets compared to 4822 bags of maize that was sold by the FISP group.
Though it may be difficult to distinguish the real effects of both the FISP and loan programme on its beneficiaries due to lack of baseline information based on regression results alone, and claim that it has made either group better than the other, it is clear that the fertiliser support policy is working better for loan beneficiaries when compared to FISP beneficiaries. This gives them an edge in income over FISP beneficiaries and graduates them into higher brackets of productivity and asset possession leading to higher yields, more income and increased growth in agricultural productivity in general.
It is recommended that educational level attained should be one of the major criteria for farmer selection when introducing new advanced technologies to increase productivity. The other recommendation is that, to invest in improved ploughing methods such as use of oxen, the area under cultivation should not be less than 2.5 hectares. It is also recommended that government should increase service delivery in an efficient manner as it has positive externalities on farmers dealing with the private sector as well other than just those targeted farmers they are servicing under the FISP programme.
Dissertation (MScAgric)--University of Pretoria, 2015.