Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa, has said government puts household and national food security on top of its development agenda that is why it introduced the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in 2005/06 season and on Tuesday launched the 2019/20 FISP wth a promise of an organised season this year.
Nankhumwa was speaking during the launch at Migowi Primary School in Phalombe and said distribution of coupons started immediately after the launch.
“FISP aims at achieving food self-sufficiency and increased income of resource-poor farming households through increased maize and legume production. Of course, instead of maize, interested farmers can even access rice seed or sorghum seed.
“This year’s programme will support farmers to access basal and top dressing fertilizers for maize, cereal seeds (maize rice and sorghum), and legume seed (groundnuts, beans, soya beans, pigeon peas and cowpeas). 900,000 resource poor farm families have been targeted.
“Government will make available 90,000 metric tons (MT) of fertilizer for maize, rice and sorghum, 4,500 MT of certified maize seed, 30 MT of sorghum seed, 50 MT of rice seed and over 900 MT of certified legume seed,” said Nankhumwa, who was accompanied by high-ranking ministry officials, including PS for agriculture, Gray Nyandule-Phiri and Chief Director in the ministry, Dr. Yanira Ntupanyama.
Other officials included Phalombe Council Chairman, Councillor Fedson, MP for Phalombe Central Constituency, George Katunga Million, Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Sameer Sulemani, District Commissioner for Phalombe, Rodrick Mateauma and Senior Chief Kaduya, among others.
Nankhumwa disclosed that all coupons had arrived before commencement of planting rains unlike in the past when coupons were distributed in November or December.
“Contracts have also been awarded to all service providers. These are the fertilizer retailers as well as seed suppliers for the 2019/2020 FISP. A total of 57 private companies have been cleared and contracts awarded to them for supply and retailing of fertilizer in this year’s season.
“A total of eleven (11) companies will be retailing seed to the farmers through various agro-dealer shops. All these seed and fertilizer retailers are on the ground, ready to serve you on time,” said the minister.
Nankhumwa said that it is the wish of government “and all the stakeholders” that only the intended beneficiaries are reached with these subsidized inputs.
“Let me urge the beneficiaries to use the inputs purposefully otherwise the government intended goal of attaining food self-sufficiency would remain a dream. Let me ask traditional leaders to lead by example and be the first to desist from malpractices associated with the programme.
“Government will not shield anyone, even officers from my ministry, if involved in the malpractices. Please report anyone involved in the malpractices to the Malawi Police or the Anti-corruption Bureau so that necessary measures can be taken against the culprits. In this regard, we have a toll free number ‘60606’ under Airtel that you can use to report any suspicious activity taking place under the programmed,” he advised.
He also appealed beneficiaries not to sell coupons because that would be like selling their own “Right to Food”, which government is guaranteeing them by providing them ‘almost free inputs’, saying government and its cooperating partners had invested a lot of resources so the investment can only yield fruits if they used the inputs as per plan.
Nankhumwa, who is also governing DPP Vice President (South), also warned fertilizer and seed suppliers who have been contracted to retail subsidized inputs not to exchange coupons with cash.
“I am aware that some input suppliers in the previous year were involved in buying coupons from the FISP beneficiaries. This is unethical. This malpractice will not be tolerated this year and I will not hesitate to terminate the contract for those that will be caught doing so.
“In addition, payment to each input supplier will be based on actual input sold and verified by the ministry. This is my stern warning to all the contracted suppliers, do the right thing and you will get paid without any problems,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :