Poor farmers duped


By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Malawi News has established that some companies that were registered to sell fertiliser under Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) are duping beneficiaries by selling the farm input which is below the weight indicated on the bags.

But one of the companies supplying the commodity, Rab Processors, has promised that it will investigate the matter.


The companies are supposed to sell fertiliser weighing 50 kilogrammes each.

Malawi News’ spot checks in Lilongwe and Kasungu have revealed that Fisp beneficiaries are given a raw deal when purchasing the commodity.

We visited Makwenda Village in Traditional Authority Mazengera, in Lilongwe where beneficiaries bought 12 bags of fertiliser that were less than 50 kilogrammes each.


However, out of 12 bags Malawi News managed to weigh, it was discovered that beneficiaries were duped almost 70 kilogrammes of fertiliser. This is equivalent to one and half bags of fertiliser.

One of the beneficiaries, Gabriel Paulo who was entrusted to buy fertiliser on behalf of his village said he was surprised to have been sold bags of fertiliser weighing less than 50 kilogrammes each.

He said what necessitated the beneficiaries to weigh the fertiliser bags was a result of one bag that he was supposed to share with another beneficiary and it turned out to be 43 kilogrammes.

“After we received subsidised fertiliser coupons as beneficiaries, I was entrusted to go and buy the 12 bags of fertiliser at Kulima Gold Depot at Nathenje. However, when we started sharing, we decided to weigh the bag first before sharing and it is this time we discovered the bag were underweight,” he said.

According to Paulo, the underweight of the one bag had forced them to weigh all the remaining bags which also turned to be less than 50 kilogrammes each.

John Nkosi, the other beneficiary, said they had been suspecting Paulo to have been behind opening the fertiliser bags.

However, he said, since the revelation, they now know what has been happening for them to have less than 50 kilogrammes bags of fertiliser. In Kasungu, one non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has opted for anonymity, which bought more than 500 bags from Farmers World meant for orphans and vulnerable children and was told to collect the commodity in Mponela and Madisi, confided in Malawi News that they faced the same challenges as beneficiaries were complaining that some bag of fertilisers were weighing less than 50 kilogrammes with others even weighing 42 kilogrammes each.

“When we reported the issue to one of the managers about the malpractice, we were given 50 kilogrammes bags, which came from another shade. This clearly shows they are doing this deliberately as they have two types of fertiliser, under and normal weight,” one official of NGO said.

But when contacted, Brian Banda, spokesperson of Rab Processors Group of Companies, whose subsidiary Kulima Gold is among the companies selling subsidised farm inputs, told Malawi News that they are investigating the matter.

Banda was quick to say that he is suspecting foul play by the person who was sent to buy the fertiliser.

“There is no proof to say we are selling fertiliser that is less than 50 kilogrammes, we have checked all our shops. We have scales that we use every time we are selling the commodity. It is our company policy to ensure that the bags of fertiliser we are selling are weighing 50 kilogrammes each,” Banda said

He said, according to their investigations, the person who came to buy the fertiliser on behalf of the beneficiaries could be in the know as to what happened to the bags saying “anything could have happened”.

He was quick to say that the company is going to compensate about one bag to the beneficiaries.

We could not get hold of Farmers World’s officials.

Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) Executive Director Charlotte Malonda has expressed concern over the malpractice and said her organisation is investigating the matter.

She said CFTC’s investigations recently discovered that Farmers World was also selling underweight fertiliser to famers and they have since opened a case against the company.

Malonda said CFTC will inform the public on the outcome.

She has since said they have received complaints about Kulima Gold and a team of investigations are on the ground for further inspection.

“We don’t condone selling underweight fertiliser, it is not allowed because it is unfair trading practice in as far as the protection of the consumer is concerned. We will inform the public when we conclude our investigations,” Malonda said.

Fisp is never short of controversy as recently community members at Changoima in the outskirts of Chikwawa were forced to pay extra K1,000 to purchase fertiliser under the programme by one of the suppliers in the programme, Mulli Brothers Limited (MBL).

But MBL Managing Director Leston Mulli described the situation as a normal business transaction arguing business is all about making profits.

However, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Chairperson Joseph Chidanti- Malunga said the system is not designed like that, adding they would report the matter to the ministry.

The 2018/19 Fisp has targeted one million beneficiaries from 900,000 during the 2017/18 farming season and was allocated K42 billion in the 2018/19 national budget out of K151 billion given to Ministry of Agriculture.

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