Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza has partly blamed the delays in the distribution of farm inputs to bureaucracy in government over payments, saying they will now be direct directly at treasury.
Chiyembekeza’s comment amid panic calls from the farmers and legislators to speed up the distribution as the country counts down to the onset of first rains.
“For the first time, payment is now done at the ministry of Finance, this can delay the process but we are doing all we can to ensure our farmers get the farm inputs on time,” said Chiyembekeza.
He said so far 20000 metric tonnes of fertilizer has already been distributed to marketers of the community ready to be distributed to farmers.
Members of parliament this week took the government to task as to why it has not yet procured seeds for the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) but Chiyembekeza dismissed this as mere hearsay and untrue,.
Nyasa Times has established that the severe delays of the distribution of the farm input is a result of government’s failure to procure fertilizer on time as it owes most suppliers a staggering K500m million in debt.
“The fact of the matter is that the government is struggling to pay the money, much of it unexplained that is why the ministry of Finance has taken over all the payment exercise,” said our source.
Nyasa Times also understands that Ministry of Agriculture delayed in awarding tenders and issuing of assignment notices to the banks for forex only made suppliers sign contracts in weakening Malawi Kwacha currency whilst all fertiliser are imported and there is a devaluation of 6 %.
All the years the contracts were pegged in dollars and government has refused to pay any interest on delayed payment.
Most suppliers will fail to supply if government fails to compromise on changing the contract pegged to Dollars as exchange rate loss will be hug.
Economists on Thursday told President Peter Mutharika to prepare exit strategies for FISP arguing the yearly K80b is unsustainable.
This year the government has increased the price of the farm inputs from K500 to K3000 per pack that includes fertilizer and seeds for maize and legumes but donors have already asked the government to stop this and direct the money instead to crop research and farming mechanisation to boost crop production.
UNICEF predicts that Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Somalia will face severe food shortages due to El Nino effects.
Malawi government says up to 3 million people face severe food shortages leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera says parliament is ready to increase allocation to relief food if it is not adequate saying the situation on the ground is dire.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :