Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Sameer Suleman, has pleaded with President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera administration not to back off on its earlier stand to directly import fertilizers for the Affordable Input Programme (AIP).
Suleman feared that taxpayers would be subjected to unnecessary cost if private traders, who are operating under the banner of Fertilizer Association of Malawi (FAM), are used.
Speaking in an interview on Monday, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker backed the stance taken by the President Chakwera government to import the input directly from the suppliers.
“Importing the fertilizers directly from the suppliers is the only way we can protect beneficiaries of the AIP from exorbitant prices,” said Suleman.
This is not the first time for Suleman to rally behind the Tonse Alliance decision to “stand with farmers” in the implementation of AIP.
Recently, he threatened to expose the schemes the Fertilizer Association of Malawi (FAM) has been using to rip off Malawi for the past two decades.
Suleman, who is also Member of Parliament for Blantyre City South East – was responding to an open letter FAM has written him, accusing him of misrepresenting facts in his presentations in various forums.
The lawmaker has repeatedly condemned FAM for practicing discrimination on the basis of race, as evidenced by the composition of the association, which currently does not have an indigenous Malawian as a member.
Suleman has also accused the association of forming a cartel that has held the country at ransom.
“They usurped the mandate of the Smallholder Farmers’ Fertilizer Association of Malawi and ADMARC. And through this, they have successfully managed to capture the state machinery in as far as importation of fertilizers is concerned,” he says.
Suleman further alleges that the association is working with some unpatriotic officials at the Capital Hill in frustrating the development of the Fertilizer Bill.
But in their letter dated December 4, 2021, the association dismissed the assertions, claiming it represents a diversity of large and small Malawian businesses.
The letter, which FAM Executive Administration Officer Mbawaka Phiri confirmed authoring, adds that their members include large importers, manufacturers, blenders, wholesalers, and retailers.
“FAM therefore rejects your claim that it is a “cartel” as fake, sensational at best and defamatory. FAM vigorously contests your claim as unfounded and without merit.
“Since its establishment FAM has a long history of successfully working with GoM and the Ministry on a number of key areas, including but not limited to fertilizer importation and distribution; good practices in the industry; fertilizer standards; the National Fertilizer Policy and Fertilizer Bill,” says the letter.
The letter adds: “It is unfortunate that the current global fertilizer markets have seen unprecedented price increases and supply shortages. The high cost of fertilizer is impacting the farmers of many Nations.
It is hoped that fertilizer prices will revert to levels more in line with those seen over the past 5 years. Along with the high prices is the low availability of the product. As a nation Malawi is competing with the region to access fertilizer. For now, all stakeholders must make their best efforts to make the product available at the best possible price to Malawi’s farmers. To add to all these external difficulties there are considerable internal difficulties.”
The association further dared Suleman to an engagement to enable him to better understand the facts and to use his privileged position as MP and Chairperson of the Committee in order to better inform fellow MPs and the public at large.
But in a separate interview, Suleman threatened to expose how the association has been suffocating government efforts to increase food production in the country.
He said he is even more disappointed that members of the association have decided to cheat President Chakwera by withdrawing their intentions to supply fertilizers in AIP.
“Honestly speaking, these people are getting me tired now. Let me tell them I have all the information on how they have held this country hostage. I wonder why our governments have let them operate using the suffix Malawi when there is no Malawian in that association. I challenge them to present the name of a Malawian that is a member of that association, if what I am saying is a lie,” he said.
He added: “I wish to assure Malawians that no matter how hard this cartel is working to frustrate the Fertilizer Bill, we, as lawmakers, are eagerly waiting for its finalization at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Once that is done, we will debate and pass it into law without hesitancy.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :