Poor Malawians targeted for this year’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) continue being subjected to deplorable conditions following findings that subsidised fertiliser is not readily available in most rural areas.
The development is sadly forcing farmers to walk long distances to townships in order to purchase the commodity, where they are also forced to sleep for a night or two while tussling for the prized commodity they so long for.
Recounting their experiences, some farmers who The Daily Times interviewed at Mangochi Boma complained of travelling for long distances to buy fertiliser, a thing which they say is increasing the price of fertiliser to around K15, 000 per bag if transportation and other costs are to be factored in.
“I have travelled from Makanjira to Mangochi to buy fertiliser because we do not have a shop in our area. The Admarc depot does not have the commodity either,” Mariam Ishmael said.
Makanjira is about 140 kilometres north of Mangochi Boma and farmers either travel by boat to Salima or use unpaved roads to Mangochi Boma in a journey that takes a minimum of five hours.
Capitalising on the farmers’ panic to get the fertiliser in time, some sellers have resorted to soliciting additional K1,500 from desperate farmers who want to be assisted in time. Some unfortunate women have also reportedly being enticed into sexual acts to avoid spending nights at markets.
“We are really being victimised by the new system. Previously, we used to buy fertiliser in our localities. But this year’s arrangement is a total punishment to us. Apart from the K7,000, we are paying for the fertiliser, we are also spending an additional K7,500 to buy the fertiliser due to transportation because we come here only to find one type of fertiliser, meaning that we need to come back to buy the other type,” said Kaleso Ngozo of Traditional Authority Nankumba in the district.
The situation, however, is not different as farmers from Balaka, Machinga, Ntcheu and Salima are also being forced to go to the Boma to buy fertiliser as the commodity is unavailable in their localities as before.
Ministry of Agriculture Spokesperson, Hamilton Chimala, said the ministry is not aware of the development and asked for a questionnaire in order for him to inquire from other officials within the ministry.
“But some of these arrangements are forced on us by the donors, so recent developments will assist the Ministry to introduce new arrangements that can help the farmers for next year,” Chimala said.
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