LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The 2016/2017 Farm Inputs Subsidy Program (FISP) is in a mess following unavailability and exorbitant prices of the inputs forcing beneficiaries to sell their coupons, The Maravi Post has learnt.
The development comes amid promising rains pouring across the nation with expectation that good harvest is guaranteed in this growing season.
With the current situation it is unlikely that the country will have enough yields as most farmers rely on organic fertilizers for their crops to do well in gardens.
It has been established that fertilizers are unavailable in most selected selling deports that only Farmers World and Agra shops are serving farmers.
For instance, a visit to some Farmers World Shops in the capital Lilongwe reveled that NPK fertilizer is not available as early as this month, the right time farmers wanted the input.
Not only that, the inputs are also supplied late to selling points which has resulted in most farmers missing the dateline of applying fertilizer to crops in good time.
Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) FISP Monitoring Study conducted between December 13, 2016 and January 5, 2017 testifies how worse this year’s the program has gone into doldrums.
The report has revealed that the supply of fertilizers to markets has been difficult as most suppliers are stocking less quantity than the demand.
The study also disclosed that there is an organized syndicate between vendors and markets clerks by exchanging coupons with money coupled with night sales in districts including Mzimba (Bwengu), Phalombe, Blantyre (Zalewa), Ntchisi, Salima (Nkhomedza), Nkhata Bay, Balaka (Phalula) and Dedza (Mayani).
FUM report added that out of the 29 companies that signed sales agreements with government in 15 districts and 30 Extension Planning Area (EPAs) that only 13 markets opened markets representing 45 percent.
“In Nsanje district where Admarc is the sole supplier of fertilizer, there has never (been) NPK stocks up to January 5, 2017 and that consignment for companies to supply the input is stuck in Beira. Farmers are travelling long distances in search of the commodities and that most depots in January 2017 have stock outs, meaning that farmers are trekking to main trading centres and mostly to Bomas to by fertilizers,” reads the FUM report in part.
“Some farmers in Mbalachanda were buying fertilizer from Zambia at MK15,000 per 50 kg with reports in Salima and Ntchisi districts the inputs sold at underweight mostly weighing 45kgs”, reads FUM report.
The development has not gone well with lawmakers including Felix Jumbe for Salima Central who is also a farmers saying the situation will likely to affect yields.
Jumbe said that the nation will miss out the opportunity of embracing good rains pouring across the country.
Concurring with the lawmaker, Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET)’s National Director Tamani Nkhono Mvula expressed disappointment over the conduct of private firms involved in the exercise.
However, Deputy FISP Coordinator Osbourne Tsoka in the Ministry of Agriculture has acknowledged the challenges the program is facing this year assuring the nation that his office was working tirelessly to address the mess.
This year’s FISP is 60% being run by private sector with government pumping MK35 billion targeting 900,000 beneficiaries.