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Suppliers to bang heads on fertiliser prices

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Lobin Lowe

Members of the Fertiliser Association of Malawi are set to meet today to discuss and declare their stand on the recent prices of fertilisers that the Ministry of Agriculture announced for this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).

Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe on Thursday last week indicated that the price of each 50 kilogramme bag of fertiliser is, under the programme, pegged at K27,000, which is less than K40, 000 that the association had indicated recently.

The association’s executive administrative officer Mbawaki Phiri Monday said its members are expected to meet today on the matter.

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“After the meeting, that’s when we will be able to tell more,” she said.

Last week, Phiri said the decision to supply at government’s dictated price is at the discretion of each individual supplier and the association does not have any influence on the decision.

Early this month, the association said costs that are incurred when importing fertiliser have necessitated the rise in the prices. It said suppliers do not have control over the matter.

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But on Thursday, Lowe said the government would work with suppliers that would be successful in the bidding process and accept government prices.

“Let me warn those suppliers that would want to increase fertiliser prices unnecessarily that the government will not revise these prices,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, input suppliers that will be used in this year’s programme would come from both the public and private sector.

Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation and Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi would supply 34 percent of the total tonnage while private sector suppliers would retail 66 percent of fertiliser requirements, seed and livestock.

Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Vice Chairperson Ulemu Chilapondwa said the government was at liberty to buy the inputs if suppliers refuse the offer.

A total of 3,744,105 farming households would benefit in this 2021-22 season.

Out of 3,744,105, a total of 3,714,105 farming households will do crop production while 30,000 farming households in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts would do livestock production (goats).

Malawi has seen a sharp rise in the price of fertiliser, a situation which a local think-tank has attributed to a number of factors.

In a policy brief last month, the Malawi Agriculture Policy Advancement and Transformation Agenda (Mwapata) institute said 90 percent of increases in domestic fertiliser prices are due to increases in global prices for fertiliser and fuel and the weakening in value of the local currency.

According to Mwapata, any near-term response would have required the government making tough choices on how to distribute the burden of the skyrocketing prices of the commodity through scaling down the number of beneficiaries, cutting the value of the subsidy, or increasing the cost burden to be borne by the Treasury.

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