President Lazarus Chakwera with Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe
Malawi Government paid US$727,000 (K750 million) to a meat company for the procurement of fertilizer meant for the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
The Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that the money was paid to United Kingdom based Barkaat Foods Limited as advance payment for fertilizer procurement.
This comes following allegations that government was duped out of K30 billion meant for AIP.
In a statement today, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Sandram Maweru has rejected the allegations that government has lost K30 billion through a dubious fertilizer deal.
According to Maweru, the ministry engaged Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRM) to process fertilizer procurement for AIP.
SFFRM entered into contract with Barkaat, a middleman with a production line with Yara Limited which is a well-known fertilizer supplier. The contract was for 25,000 metric tonnes and Barkaat demanded an advance payment of US$727,000 to lock the price.
When Malawi paid the money through Ecobank, Barkaat cancelled the contract saying it had lost the production line with Yara and could not commit to supply the fertilizer.
“Barkaat agreed to transfer the fee back to SFFRM through the same bank. This advance commitment fee repayment of about K750 million is under recall by Ecobank and will be received by the end of October 2022,” said Maweru.
Documents Malawi24 has seen indicate that the company entrusted by government for such a huge contract was registered as a slaughterhouse, with its business focusing wholesale of meat, dairy products as well as fruits and juices.
On social media, Government has come under fire over the deal with Malawians calling for investigation amid suspicions of money laundering.
“What we have in front of us is just a tip of clear case of Fraud, Money Laundering, Racketeering and Looting of public money through AIP,” Social commentator Joshua Chisa Mbele wrote in a Facebook post in which he also demanded the firing of Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe.
“With this, I’m inviting ACB, Fiscal Police, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecution to open a criminal investigation. I’m equally moving Parliament relevant portfolio committee to summon you for questioning.
“It’s just incomprehensible that Malawi Government would have entered into a fertilizer contract with a Butchery in UK. We demand urgent answers. We also demand your removal from Cabinet,” Mbele wrote.
Another Social commentator Onjezani Kenani wrote on Facebook: “Buying national fertilizer from a butcher. We’re living in interesting times. Anyway, what I find encouraging is that the President absolutely hates corruption. That is what he says.”
Follow us on Twitter: