Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Principal Secretary, Erica Maganga has been removed from her position over reports that he had allowed businesses which were bankrolling former ruling DPP, to be considered for the 2012/2013 Farm Input Subsidy Program.
Nyasa Times understands that Maganga has been deployed to what civil servants are calling it “concentration camp” in the Office of President and Cabinet where officers who were removed from key positions including former secretary to the treasury, Joseph Mwanamvekha, are ‘warehoused’.
Maganga, according to sources, has been removed because the Internal Procurement Committee of the ministry defended its list of successful candidates in the fertilizer subsidy but government rejected the list because it included DPP ‘sponsors’.
He had attracted the wrath of the power-that-be by including the company of DPP southern region governor Noel Masangwi, Leston Mulli, Elite Distributors, Farmers World, Simama General Dealers and Export Trading.
“The authorities wanted the DPP sponsors not to get the fertiliser contracts,” a close source the PS said.
She has been replaced by Dr Jeffrey Luhanga.
“We had a meeting at Hippo Lodge where selection of the successful candidates was done. The IPC chairman Dr Lipita and head of procurement Mr. Mwenera and others were in attendance. We have refused to bow down to the demands by government because they are against what the committee arrived at. We feel we did the right and professional thing,” the member said.
According to Finance Minister Dr. Ken Lipenga, the major allocation within the Ministry of Agriculture budget in the 2012/13 National Budget he presented recently is for the Farm Inputs Subsidy Program (FISP) which has been allocated a total of K40.6 billion.
“These funds are for the purchase of 150,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers comprising 75,000 metric tonnes of Urea and 75,000 metric tonnes of NPK fertilizers which will be distributed to 1.5 million farm families at a price of K500 per bag,” said Lipenga when he presented the financial plan.
The Ministry of Agriculture itself has been allocated a total of K68 billion.
Meanwhile, Traditional Authority Kalonga of Salima has asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to ensure that it makes an effective and efficient distribution plan for the input to reach the target beneficiaries.
Speaking at Kachere Irrigation Scheme in Salima during the launch of Irrigation and Manure production for Salima Agriculture Development Division (SADD), the Chief said poor distribution of FISP inputs has left many would be beneficiaries stranded.
“The farm input program is good, but many people who are given the coupons fail to access fertilizer and seeds as they don’t reach rural markets. My plea therefore is that this season you should make sure that you manage your logistics well so that the inputs reach targeted people,” the chief said.
He added: “If you go round in villages you will find many people with unused FISP coupons from the previous seasons.”
Reacting to the call, Deputy Minister of and Food Security Ulemu Chilapondwa said government is aware that logistical hiccups are a big challenge to the program.
“As a Deputy Minister and as Member of Parliament I am aware of this problem and as government we are working towards reducing the logistical problems the program has faced in the past seasons,” said Chilapondwa.
“We are aware that fuel problems was the main cause of the mess in the distribution of FISP last season and we are hopeful that with the steady fuel supply that would not be an issue this time around,” said the Deputy Minister.
He then appealed to all stake holders at all levels to make sure that they coordinate well and ensure that the inputs reach all corners of the country.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :