By Burnett Munthali
It is not clear how many poor farmers will access Affordable Input Program (AIP) fertilizer this year as prices have doubled. Many Malawians see this as a big challenge considering the rising cost of living, loss of business in all sectors and not forgetting the 25% devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha.
Government increased the purchasing price of AIP fertilizer meant for poor farmers from MK5,000 where it was previously to MK15 000 per bag.
However, some Malawians think that AIP fertilizer has been reduced tremendously from K75000 to K15000. It all depends with the angle you choose to take in this argument and the reason you choose to take that particular angle. It appears to be an interesting debate going on countrywide and when you look at what is happening on the ground this is quite a circus.
The Tonse Alliance Government (TAG) is intentionally struggling to get and distribute fertilizer to poor farmers this year more than ever before and surely not out of human error. Everything looks well staged and planned by the team in government today.
When Is Fertilizer Going To Be Distributed?
Many Malawians are concerned as to when AIP fertilizer will finally be distributed to poor farmers countrywide as time is not on the side of the poor farmers. The worry comes because November is a month of rains which just around the corner but the fertilizer distribution exercise hasn’t started yet up to this now as we speak.
Some roads in remote areas become very difficult to pass through during rain season therefore the distribution exercise could be compromised if the delay continues. The exercise was expected to have taken place in August, September or latest by October.
The Timing Of Fertilizer Distribution
It is disturbing to see government struggling with fertilizer distribution once again after its first three years in government. The President is on record for having said on many occasions that government had learned lessons from the past mistakes it made during the first and second year of AIP distribution.
In true sense, the interpretation of what Malawians see on the ground is that government hasn’t learned anything from all these mistakes and is not even prepared to improve the handling of AIP in future. All what is being said are lies to blindfold citizens.
The Quality Of Fertilizer
According to unconfirmed reports, it is alleged that government intends to distribute expired fertilizer to poor farmers this year. The reason for doing so has been attributed to government panicking. Tonse Alliance Government (TAGl is said to be under great panic because of the AIP failed/ delayed program which has so far cost the job of agricultural minister Lobin Lowe and others.
Malawians expect more heads to roll but some argue that Chakwera is a weak leader and part of all this, hence he won’t do anything. Some people believe Chakwera could be a beneficiary of looking at his silence on crucial matters and the delay to reshuffle his cabinet amid scandals.
The Next Harvest
We can as well speculate and predict that if fertilizer distribution continues to be handled in this problematic manner, it will negatively affect next year’s harvest.
The economic struggles that many Malawians are going through today might double or even triple in the near future as there’s no hope of recovery. The living standards will possibly dwindle terribly and everything will even be worse.
There is a possibility of looming hunger for many poor Malawians next year as a result of poor handling of AIP fertilizer.
MK90 Billion For Fertilizer Subsidy
One wonders how government arrived at MK90 billion for AIP fertilizer and then trimmed down the number of beneficiaries to a smaller number then government claims to have used only MK750 million while other sources indicate that the same government has already spent K30 billion on AIP fertilizer which hasn’t been delivered up to now.
Two different stories have emerged in this circus show of corruption. One says a UK butchery was identified and paid MK30 billion or MK750 million to supply AIP fertilizer to Malawi. The second version says a South African lady fixer botched MK750 million fertilizer deal. All this appears to be a staged drama of corruption by government because even if you were to be an unlucky individual, you cannot face mishaps in a role just like that. Government is cooking fake news.
Organized Government Corruption
All events happening on the ground point to nothing else other than government corruption without any question about it. The current leadership seems not to care about the electorate anymore because they now feel to be on top of the world.
It is this same corruption we are talking about that has annoyed millions of Malawians to an astonishing point. However, it seems the politicians in government today cannot see perhaps they just pretend not to see the volcano of anger erupting.
The greatest corruption is the Organized Government Corruption which has clearly shown its ugly head from all angles just in two years and some months of a new government.