Joyce Banda blasts fertilizer ‘corruption’ contracts

Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda has condemned what she has described as a ‘fertilizer cartel’, which is responsible for the current scarcity of fertilizer resulting in unbearably exorbitant prices on the market.

“I am aware that fertilizer contracts under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) are granted to family friends and relatives of the people in power. This has compromised transparency and accountability and that government’s integrity has been put to serious question.

“The favoured suppliers do operate as they will; they are paid upfront but decide whether to supply fertilizer or not; on time or late,” said Malawi’s first woman Vice President when she addressed a People’s Party mass rally at Ntcheu Community Centre Ground on Saturday.

Joyce Banda: Corruption in Bingu government is rampant

Seemingly furious, the VP said there was no justification for the non availability of fertilizer on the market when funds were duly provided for that purpose.

She bemoaned that poor smallholder farmer has to cough either K3, 000 or K5, 000 for a 50 KG bag of fertilizer as it is scarce on the market. The recommended price of a 50 KG bag of fertilizer under FISP is K500.

“I was there; I know what is happening. These people give lucrative fertilizer contracts to relatives and friends whom they hardly reprimand when things go wrong.

“I am saying this without any fear of contradiction and I am ready to be thrown into prison for standing up against abuse of office and government resources,” said Banda, falling short of mentioning the ‘friends and relatives’.

Nyasa Times recently reported that despite the 2010/11 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) review faulting the manner in which tenders of the supply and delivery of fertilizer were offered by government, the 2011/12 procurement process is almost a repeat of the previous scenario.

Last year, the FISP review observed that some of the bidders were offered higher prices such as Mulli Brothers and Nyiombo Investments who were nonetheless given a lion’s share of the programme.

Two suppliers were offered contracts to supply and deliver a total of 12000 metric tonnes (10000 Urea and 2000 NPK) and 10000 metric tonnes (NPK) each at a cost of about K1.5 billion and K1.3 billion, respectively under the 2011/12 FISP.

The two suppliers have closer links with president Bingu wa Mutharika. Another supplier also with close business ties with the Head of State is Export Trading Group who has also been offered a contract to supply 10000 metric tonnes of NPK and is expected to be paid about K1.3 billion.

Nyasa Times also recently reported that people in Mulanje West Constituency are bitter with their Member of Parliament Patricia Kaliati because she is buying government subsidized fertilizer to herself at the expense of the poor people.

State-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) had announced that Kaliati was visiting Admarc markets in her constituency to stop corruption that was going on there in which some officials demanded extra K500 from poor families to buy a bag of fertilizer which is also pegged at K500.

But it emerged that Kaliati’s motive was to buy the fertilizer for herself and for resale elsewhere.

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