K180 billion AIP budget vanishes as Malawi relies on donated fertilizer

Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale (R) at a factory where donated fertilizer is being blended and packed

…Tonse selling donated fertilizer at K15 thousand

Malawi has received over 70,000 metric tonnes of donated fertilizer which the government is selling to Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) beneficiaries at K15,000 per 50kg bag.

Malawi initially had a K109 billion budget for AIP and this was recently raised to K180 billion for the program which targets to procure 185 073.33 metric tonnes of Urea and NPK fertiliser to benefit 2.5 million farmers.

However, it appears that government has shelved plans to procure thousands of metric tonnes of fertilizer through Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) using the budgeted funds and is banking on the donated fertilizer.

Despite over 70,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer for the program being donated, government announced that AIP beneficiaries would be buying a 50kg bag at K15,000.

This has raised questions on what happens to the money which has not been used and what will happen to the money made from the donated fertilizer.

“So we get a fertilizer donation from Morocco and we sell it to our farmers for K15,000? That is K6 billion right there. Where will the money go? How will anyone be held accountable for these funds? We’re staring at another scandal about to unfold. #Malawi for you,” Journalist Jack McBrams tweeted.

Speaking at a press briefing, rights activist Sylvester Namiwa also questioned why government is selling the donated fertilizer.

“CDEDI and numerous Malawians are not getting response of where the already budgeted for AIP will go. Where the money already budgeted for this exercise will go is anybody’s guess,” said Namiwa.

Speaking to the local media, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said Malawi received 10,000 MT from Morocco which is required to be processed into 52,000 metric tonnes.

Kawale said the blending process and transportation of the fertilizer will cost about K40 billion and the funds will be taken from the K109 billion AIP budget.

“We received 20,000 MT from World Food Programme. The fertiliser is up to Beira [Mozambique]. From Beira, we need to transport it to Malawi and then to selling points. We did not get money for that. We are using part of AIP budget to fund this transportation,” said Kawale.

He also defended the decision to sell AIP fertilizer to beneficiaries at K15,000.

“What we are doing is asking for K15,000 contribution, not selling, but contribution, towards accessing the fertiliser. I hope this makes sense,” said Kawale.