Malawi Govt shuts down fertilizer selling depots in Blantyre

Some depots selling the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) fertilizer have been temporarily closed in Blantyre after a crash erupted between buyers, Minister of Information and Civic Education has confirmed.

The depots in Chilomoni, Chirimba and Manyowe Townships were closed on Thursday after some differences exploded among farmers, which spilled into a scuffle as the buyers could not agree as to who should access the commodity first.

According to current set-up, villages in each district have been given particular dates as to when they will be given opportunity to buy the cheap fertilizer at designated depots.

However, on Thursday due what is been described as communication break-down, some villages coincidentally collided at Chirimba, Chilomoni and Manyowe Townships selling depots forcing the Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund (SFFRF) officers to halt sales to avoid creating more fracas.

Kunkuyu: Ss

yasa Times visit to the premise found the depots are closed and only people around were SFFRF workers.

Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Nkukuyu confirmed to Nyasa Times that the depots were temporality closed until a new selling time table is devised to ensure smooth transactions.

“According to reports Iam getting on the ground, some villages turned up to buy fertilizer on a date already allocated to other villages. This created misunderstanding as others were denied to buy the commodity. Based on current set-up, each village is given a date on when to buy the fertilizer and the Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund only releases fertilizer amounting to the number of beneficiaries from each village.

“With the set-up it means that if other villages turn up on a wrong date to buy fertilizer, they will not be allowed because the amount of fertilizer available at such moment will only be specifically for the targeted village. This was done ensure that people should not walk long distances or spend nights at fertilizer depots but for accountability purposes,” said Kunkuyu.

Kunkuyu said meanwhile agriculture officials were working closely with various village headmen to devise new schedule for buying fertilizer, adding the depots will open by the weekend.

This year fertilizer subsidy programme has been facing some challenges with some districts not yet supplied with coupons.

Last week Minister of Agriculture Professor Peter Mwanza admitted disparities in the distribution of coupons under Fertilizer Subsidy Programme with some districts not yet supplied with the vouchers.

And in Mangochi and Mzimba there have been incidents of fertilizer being mixed with sand. This week about 1,610 sand mixed fertilizer was found at Ebombeni Admarc depot in Mzimba. Last month 146 bags were also found containing sand at Katuli Admarc depot in Mangochi.

And police arrested Optchem boss and other people in connection to Mangochi incident.

Meanwhile, over 300 bags of fertilizer in this year’s subsidy programme have been embezzled whilst on-transit to some of the delivery points in the Southern Region, thereby frustrasting current administration’s strides and efforts in ensuring Malawi a food-secure nation.

Southern Region Police Publicist, Nicholas Gondwa explained that the bags meant for the subsidy programme got stolen by Zakeyo Banda who was driving a truck with a registration number MH 1523 scanning red in colour.

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