The Ministry of Agriculture says the 2019/20 Farm Input Subsidy Programme will be better than in previous years because the ministry has introduced measures to safeguard the programme against any form of abuse.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa said this at a press briefing in Blantyre on Monday.
Nankhumwa said his ministry has introduced measures to deal with issues such as selling and buying of coupons, selling of counterfeit seeds or fertilizers and failure by suppliers to operate in agreed locations.
According to Nankhumwa, the ministry has awarded contracts to 57 private suppliers and two Public Institutions – ADMARC and SFFRFM – making a total of 59.
He added that the ministry has inserted in every supplier’s clauses that seeks to protect FISP.
The clauses gives the ministry power to terminate contracts for suppliers found selling counterfeit fertilizer or seed not compliant to specifications, underweight bags or any fertilizer or seed contrary to the tender requirement specifications Suppliers found buying coupons from beneficiaries will also have their contract terminated.
Government will also disqualify from further participation in the programme any supplier who fail to honour their contract or is found operating in an area of award without a selling point.
“All fertilizer and seed to be supplied into the programme shall be tested and certified by Malawi Government before being supplied and only fertilizer and seed, which has passed the testing shall be supplied into the programme.
“In the event that the supplier submits fake coupons or recycled coupons the procuring entity shall reject and no payment will be effected,” said Nankhumwa.
On coupons, the minister said government has worked hard this year to improve coupon features to ensure security of the coupons and eliminate chances of cheating by fortune seekers in the programme.
“I am happy to inform you that coupons to be used this year are highly protected with zero chances of fraud or theft by unscrupulous men and women who take advantage of beneficiaries every year,” said Nankhumwa.
He added that the ministry has engaged a team of Information Technology (IT) experts from the Ministry and the National Registration Bureau (NRB) to work on paperless coupon system for the purpose of improving programme security and achieving efficiency.
According to the minister, the design for the paperless coupon is ready for pretesting purposes this season and full implementation will be done in 2020/2021 season.
Under the programme this year, government will provide 90,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of fertilizer of which 45,000 MT is NPK and 45,000 MT is Urea.
There will also be 4,500 MT of maize seed, 30 MT of Sorghum seed and 50 MT of Rice seed as well as over 900 MT legume seeds for soya bean, beans, ground nuts, cowpeas and pigeon peas.
The programme targets 900, 000 beneficiaries with each beneficiary receiving one 50 Kg bag of NPK; one 50 Kg bag of Urea; a pack of either 5Kg maize seed or 7Kg Sorghum or 7kg of Rice seed and; a pack of either 1Kg (Groundnut /beans) or 2 Kg pack of soya bean/Pigeon peas/cow peas seed).
For each 50kg bag of fertilizer, government will contribute MK15,000 with the beneficiary paying for a 50kg bag of NPK fertilizer