Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Monday said it would recommend that the government empower Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) and Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to source fertiliser if local suppliers insist on high prices for the commodity.
Committee chairperson Sameer Suleman confirmed the development Monday, further telling The Daily Times that Fertiliser Association of Malawi (Fama) officials were yet to report to the committee, two weeks after the committee asked them to reconsider revising fertiliser prices downwards.
“We are still consulting fertiliser suppliers. Our findings are showing that government institutions can get the fertiliser at a cheaper price than private suppliers,” he said.
Suleman said, in an ideal setup, fertiliser prices were supposed to be fair as, according to what they have gathered, some fertilisers come in raw form.
“Some of the fertiliser that does come to Malawi comes as raw material and it is blended in here. We expect that fertiliser to be cheaper than already processed fertiliser.
“However, we are surprised to see that even locally blended fertiliser is costing the government the same amount of money,” Suleman said.
Fama officials earlier told committee members that Malawi had no control over prices as it relies much on imports.
The association’s executive administration officer Mbawaka Phiri said at the time that the association’s members were at the receiving end, in terms of fertiliser prices.
Monday, Phiri said they were still discussing the issue with Ministry of Agriculture officials.
“We have communicated to the government and we are waiting for their response. We usually deal with the Ministry of Agriculture because those are the ones who directly award the contract. The meeting we had with the committee was a special one,” she said
The price of a 50-kilogramme (kg) bag of fertiliser has shot to K40,000 from around K20,000, raising fears that the Affordable Inputs Programme may be negatively affected.
Recently, President Lazarus Chakwera described fertiliser prices as a big blow to farmers in the country.
SFFRFM Executive Officer Andy Kalinde earlier said, if the government could support the fund, a 50kg bag could cost less than K30,000
Parliament is expected to deliberate on the Fertiliser Bill, which aims at mandating the government to control fertiliser prices on the market