Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) coupons continue to be found in wrong hands of people who ,instead of buying inputs for their farming use, are selling the coupons to some traders who redeem money from the government.
It has been established that there are some unscrupulous agro-dealers who are moving door-to-door purchasing Fisp coupons from intended beneficiaries.
While there are complaints about this malpractice, Mangochi Police yesterday arrested a 39-year-old man for allegedly trying to buy inputs using some 207 coupons which were supposed to be used in Machinga District.
Mangochi Police publicist, Roderick Maida, identified the suspect as Wellington Maphuwa of Kambani Village, Traditional Authority Mwambo in Zomba District.
“The suspect went to an Agora shop in Masuku where he was found with five coupons of Urea fertiliser, two coupons of NPK fertiliser, 100 coupons of legume seeds and 100 coupons of cereal seeds, all bearing Machinga District serial numbers,” Maida said.
He said the suspect will appear before the court soon to answer a charge of unlawful possession of official documents.
However, Maida could not say how over 207 coupons ended up in the hands of a single trader instead of being used by the targeted farmers.
In reaction, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security spokesperson Priscila Mateyu, said the Ministry was working in close collaboration with officials from district councils and chiefs to ensure that coupons are utilised by people who deserve them.
“This season we have registered two cases [of unlawful possession of coupons] of which one of them happened in Mzuzu. We are waiting for the police to establish the truth of the matter before taking appropriate action,” she said.
Mateyu warned that the Ministry will terminate contracts for agro-dealers who will be engaged in buying and selling of Fisp coupons this year.
The government has this year allocated K35.5 billion for Fisp with 900,000 intended beneficiaries.
The programme has for the past years been marred by corrupt practices as well as unsatisfactory implementation which has led to calls from other quarters for a complete overhaul.