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Committee cautions on Fisp

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Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has cautioned government to speed up preparations for this year’s Fertiliser Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) to avert a repeat of last year’s flop of the programme.
Chairperson of the Committee, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said errors in last year’s implementation of the programme emanated from poor planning.
Malunga was commenting to reservations by some sectors of society over preparations of the heavily criticised subsidy programme.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development spokesperson, Osborne Tsoka, said 32 companies submitted their bids for the supply of the subsidised fertiliser and evaluation is in process.
He said the evaluation process is being done by Smallholders Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi which is the ministry’s contract manager and is expected to be completed in two weeks’ time.
“We do not choose as to how many companies should supply the subsidised fertiliser. Every company which bids and is successful will be awarded a contract. So in two weeks’ time, we should be able to award the contracts,” he said.
However, Malunga said names of companies which will be successful in the evaluation should be made available to the committee before they are awarded the contracts.
Malunga said the idea is to avoid companies which failed to supply the commodity to farmers last year appearing on the list.
“We hit a wall in last year’s programme and we cannot afford a repeat. This implies whoever is supplying fertiliser this year should be chosen in good time and people that failed us last time should not appear,” he said.
Malunga added that his committee should be informed on what is happening in regards to the implementation of the programme.
“We still need to speed up because the other thing that delays is the printing of vouchers beneficiaries need to receive the coupons in good time, preferably by October everything should be done, and distribution should start,” he said.
Commenting on the concern, Tsoka said the process of selecting beneficiaries of the programme has commenced across the country, and coupons are expected in the country by October.
“We are expecting to receive the batch of the coupons in the country by month end of September or early October. And in terms of completing contract with the supplier of the coupons, it is already done,” he said.
Malunga also pointed out that companies that will supply fertiliser in this year’s programme should be given specific areas.
“For example, if you are given to supply in Salima, you should not supply in Lilongwe because last year that is exactly what confused the whole thing,” he observed.
Meanwhile, Malunga has commended the ministry for changing its approach in this year’s programme as the committee feels it is being engaged in the processes.
This year, government has allocated K33.5 billion for the purchase of 90,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser, 4,500 metric tonnes of improved maize seed and 1,800 metric tonnes of legume seed.
The inputs are aimed at serving 900,000 beneficiaries who will be accessing a K50 kilogramme bag of fertiliser at K15,000.

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