Member of Parliament for Mangochi North, Benedicto Chambo has expressed concern over the conduct of most traders and transporters who failed to deliver farm inputs under the subsidy programme during the 2016/2017 agricultural season.
Chambo expressed the concern on the sidelines of a full council meeting on Wednesday at Mangochi Town Council Hall.
The legislator said for the past five years the farm inputs subsidy programme (FISP) had been well coordinated except in 2016/2017 season where some of the private fertilizer traders failed to deliver the commodity to beneficiary farmers.
“During the last FISP season in Makanjira, for example, beneficiaries who had received coupons failed to buy fertilizers due to unavailability of the commodity since transporters claimed that some roads were impassable as such could not reach the beneficiaries,” Chambo said.
Chambo who is also member of the parliamentary committee on agriculture said using his own initiative and resources he collected coupons from the farmers in his constituency and bought the commodity from Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) and AGORA in Blantyre.
“Suppliers were complaining that they could not manage to reach the beneficiaries with their lorries but I managed to reach the same places with my trucks and delivered the fertilizer,” the parliamentarian said.
Chambo, therefore, proposed that government should still engage SFFRFM and Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) because they have a record of proper management of the exercise.
“Agro – dealers have the capacity to manage the system but some of the suppliers who were engaged this time around failed to withstand the pressure as a result failed to manage the system,” Chambo said. “Government should identify some agro – dealers within the district who can reach the beneficiaries with the farm inputs.”
The 2017/2018 FISP will target 900 000 beneficiaries countrywide. In Mangochi, it will target 50 900 farming families, according to the presentation made by the district agriculture development office at the full council meeting.
Prices for the farm input coupons for the 2017/2018 have been pegged at K15, 000 for both basal and top dressing fertilizer while maize seed will be at K3, 670 and legumes at K2, 050.