Fertilizer Association of Malawi has made a staggering revelation that it failed to meet the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation to appraise it of the challenges the fertilizer industry is facing, saying the Committee demanded to be funded over K25 million as travel expenses for the meeting at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.
The reproach follows a statement that Blantyre City South East Member of Parliament, Sameer Suleman made on Friday, December 3, in his capacity as chairperson of the Committee in which he described the association as a ‘cartel’ that is ripping off Malawian farmers.
The Association said it failed to raise the total of K25,273,920 road-trip that was proposed by Suleman’s Committee for the meeting scheduled on September 9, 2021, that the Association proposed “to discuss the current constraints faced by the industry for the Affordable Inputs Program [AIP] season”.
“This invitation to host an event for your Committee at the Capital Hotel at which FAM proposed presenting the problems that the Industry faces for your better understanding was not taken up,” said the statement.
“FAM again invites you to engage with it for you to better understand the facts and to use your privileged position as MP and Chairperson of the Committee in order to better inform your fellow MPs and the public at large.”
The Association thus reproaches Suleman that he misinformed the august House on Friday, saying it hopes that this may have been a result of the MP “not being properly informed.
The Association says it was established in 2007 on recommendation of the Ministry of Agriculture that the fertilizer industry be well represented and able to engage effectively with the Government.
It says it has been in existence for 15 years and not the 10 years that Suleman stated in Parliament, saying the Association “aims to foster a conducive and enabling environment for the use and trading of the fertilizer products, to sustain a food secure Malawi for the benefit of our members and the consumer”.
It says it has 20 members and not 6 as the MP said on Friday and that all members are privately owned commercial entities, who participate competitively in the fertilizer industry.
It further states that the Association “does not discriminate on the basis of race, tribe or religion neither in its membership nor its dealings with the public”.
“All companies trading in fertilizer who meet the professional standards set by FAM’s application process, are welcome as members” and that it is “proud to represent a diversity of large and small Malawian businesses.
“Its members include large importers, manufacturers, blenders, wholesalers, and retailers. Some of its members perform several of these activities.
“Many of its members have been importing and selling fertilizer for over 20 years and have built up a high degree of experience and capacity. Over the years they have invested in infrastructure, human resource development, job creation and a strong tax revenue base [and that it] directly employs over 5,000 people.
The Association thus says it rejects Suleman’s claim that it is a ‘cartel’, saying the allegation is “fake, sensational at best, defamatory, unfounded and without merit”.
It says since its establishment, the Association has a long history of successfully working with the government 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.
Its membership “collectively imports and sells a large part of Malawi’s fertilizer requirements [and] this does not in any way inhibit or prohibit” non-members nor government institutions such as Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi [SFFRFM] or Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation Limited [ADMARC] from importing and selling fertilizer in Malawi.
“FAM cannot be blamed for their failure to do so. You should be aware that of the 164 companies awarded contracts under GoM’s Affordable Inputs Program [AIP] for the 2021-22 season, only 11 of them are members of FAM.
“That means that 9 members of FAM were not awarded contracts despite their pivotal role in the 2020-21 AIP season whereby FAM members supplied 56% of the fertilizer supplied to farmers. This was achieved in record time and AIP was an outstanding success.
“You may also wish to know that in 2021 FAM has been inducted as a member of the International Fertilizer Association [IFA] which has given FAM access to credible international Industry statistics.
“FAM is pleased to report that despite the very adverse conditions of the global fertilizer market, FAM members do indeed have stocks as one would expect of companies in the Industry.
“It is a credit to their experience and effort that there are sufficient fertilizer stocks within Malawi at this critical time. These stocks are available for sale to all farmers across the country, either by wholesale or retail through the vibrant retail network of FAM’s members.”
The Association further explains that on November 16, 2021, all fertilizer stakeholders were invited by the MwAPATA Institute to a presentation by two independent economists — Dr. Christone Nyondo and Dr. Jan Duchoslav — who explained to all present, including members of Suleman’s Committee, the global context of the current increase in fertilizer prices.
“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.
It also maintains that congestion at the main ports servicing Malawi — Beira and Nacala that has been exacerbated by neighboring countries’ scramble to secure their fertilizers in time for the season and a very serious chronic shortage of foreign exchange is hampering the importation and sale of fertilizer.
“It is therefore imperative that all citizens of Malawi are made aware of the global fertilizer crisis and that it has unfortunately impacted Malawi leading to high prices.
“FAM believes that Parliament is the appropriate platform to make these observations and to assure the public that all stakeholders are working together to minimize the impact of this crisis. It is, however, not helpful to use this platform to misstate the facts, exploit the anxiety felt by all of us and incite discord.
“It is unfortunate to see you speak with such hostility towards the private sector that Government of Malawi is aiming to grow and support as major contributor to the development and the growth of the National economy,” says the statement.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :