The Agriculture Committee of Parliament has thrown its weight behind the Ministry of Agriculture’s decision to buy fertiliser from Saudi Arabia in the 2022-23 Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
The development comes after a senior Ministry of Agriculture official disclosed that the country would be sending a delegation to Saudi Arabia to discuss with fertiliser manufacturers, effectively eliminating private traders from the AIP supply chain.
Secretary for Agriculture Sandram Maweru told the committee of Parliament in Lilongwe that the ministry would buy the commodity directly from manufacturers.
“We will ensure that we enforce what the State President (Lazarus Chakwera) said in the Sona (State of the Nation Address) when he said the government should buy fertiliser from manufacturers.
“To that effect, we have a delegation that is being arranged to go to Saudi Arabia to meet one of the manufacturers who will sell us fertiliser at factory price,” Maweru said.
Committee chairperson Sameer Suleman said they were in support of the idea.
He said there were indications that Saudi Arabian companies were interested in the initiative.
“There is, for example, a big company that is owned by the Saudi [Arabian] government that is willing to open a fertiliser factory in the country,” he said.
He said the committee would push hard for the factory to be opened so that the issue of fertiliser shortage is dealt with and ensure that “cartels” that have been benefitting from the old system are removed.
In the 2021-22 farming season, farmers had difficulties in redeeming fertiliser due to the scarcity of the commodity in outlets.
This followed the pullout of private traders, who refused to supply fertiliser after disagreeing with government prices which they claimed were low.
The government wanted to buy the commodity at K27,000 per 50 kilogramme bag but the traders wanted a higher price.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.