Advertisement
National

Farmers to sweat for fertiliser

Advertisement
Sameer Suleman

Tough times lie ahead of farmers in the 2022-23 farming season, with fertiliser prices going as high as K63,000 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag months before the growing season starts.

Random checks conducted by The Daily Times in Blantyre Tuesday indicated that a 50kg bag of Super D, which tobacco farmers use, was selling at K63,000.

Tobacco is Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner but Super D is not part of the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).

Advertisement

A 50kg bag of Urea, on the other hand, was going at K55,000 while that of NPK was fetching K49,500.

This comes at a time the government has reduced the budget for this year’s AIP from K142 billion last year to K109 billion.

Chairperson for Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture Sameer Suleman told The Daily Times that the country needs 200,000 tonnes of Urea and another 200,000 metric tonnes of NPK for AIP alone.

Advertisement

He said, in general, the country needs between 600,000 and 700,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser to meet its needs annually.

Suleman said there was, therefore, a lot of work to be done.

He advised the government to start purchasing the commodity now so that it does not panic when the growing season starts.

“We are saying that, instead of touring silos, the President [Lazarus Chakwera] should be sorting out the fertiliser issue because the silos will be useless next year without the fertiliser. We, as Parliament, gave them money and we expect them to start buying the fertiliser now. We told them that we want the government to buy the commodity directly from manufacturers and not middlemen this time around.

“What is happening is that all the foreign exchange we are getting is going towards procurement of fuel, and forex reserves are depleting steadily. We do not want to arrive at a time when the government connives with the cartel of middlemen after panicking last minute,” Suleman said.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Agriculture is not coming out clear on how many people will benefit from this year’s AIP and how much farmers would be required to contribute per 50kg bag of fertiliser.

The ministry’s spokesperson Gracian Lungu said the ministry would not be commenting on anything to do with AIP until a reform paper that has been drafted on the programme is adopted.

“The ministry developed an AIP reform paper and, once this is adopted, we will tell the public about how we are to approach this year’s programme. For now, [we are making] no comment on AIP,” he said.

The ministry recently announced plans to channel all agricultural services, including implementation of the AIP, through farmers clubs.

The Ministry of Agriculture announced the new policy direction following recommendation by President Lazarus Chakwera throughout his nationwide crop inspection tours but agriculture experts have asked government to tread carefully on the plan, saying farmers have to be properly engaged and organized.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Advertisement
Tags
Show More
Advertisement

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker