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Government secures 230,000mt of fertiliser

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Tamani Nkhono Mvula

Secretary to the Treasury Macdonald Mafuta Mwale has broken silence on fertiliser supply for the 2022-23 season under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), saying the government is purchasing 230,000 metric tonnes (mt) of the commodity.

Mwale said “procurement of the fertiliser is underway”.

“As I am speaking, a ship is offloading in Beira (Mozambique) 30,000mt. Another 200,000mt of fertiliser is being arranged in South Africa,” Mwale said.

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However, he could not precisely say when the consignments would arrive in the country.

This is coming amid uncertainty over supply of the commodity as the growing season fast approaches.

In a recent interview, agriculture policy expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said it was paramount for the government to announce in good time the beneficiaries of the programme for planning purposes.

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Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture have in recent months refrained from commenting on the matter.

Meanwhile, some community leaders are calling on the government to consider reducing farmers’ contribution to AIP fertiliser from K15,000 to K10,000 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag.

This follows a leaked AIP implementation guidelines document for 2022-23 purportedly from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Among other things, the document indicates that the marked price for a 50 kg bag of fertiliser is pegged at K55,000. A farmer will contribute K15,000 for each bag of NPK or Urea and the government will be topping up with K40,000 for each bag accessed.

But in an interview, Traditional Authority Jenala from Phalombe District said the economic situation for most vulnerable communities does not allow them to spare K15,000 for fertilisers.

“People in the villages do not have any money to secure K30,000 for two bags [of fertiliser],” Jenala said.

Traditional Authority Kambwiri from Salima District concurred with Jenala, saying people in the villages do not have any disposable income and it was necessary to reduce the contribution from farmers.

Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Sandram Mawelu declined to comment on the matter.

In recent months, prices of fertiliser have been on the rise owing to global supply and demand trends. Currently, on the retail market, a 50 kg bag is fetching an average of K60,000.

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