Unlike in the past, there has been a change on the retailing of inputs with government involving private companies and fixing the coupon value.
One of the beneficiaries, John Tembo told Capital FM that the involvement of private companies in retailing inputs has eased their struggles in accessing farm inputs.
“Unlike in the past where we had to spend weeks to access inputs the current arrangement has enabled us to access inputs within a day as such we do not experience work disruptions into our farms as has been the case previously,” Tembo said.
He added, “We did not experience long queues and for that I would like to commend government for introducing this change as the previous one was a burden and despite that inputs were cheap then but at the end they were expensive if we factor in the time we were spending to buy the inputs.”
But while conquering with Tembo on the easiness they have had in accessing inputs, another beneficiary Masozi Kamanga faulted government for fixing the coupon value saying it has hindered some beneficiaries from accessing the inputs.
She said the fixing of the coupon value has raised the amount a farmer needs to contribute due to price increase of inputs and that has made some beneficiaries struggle.
“I know of some beneficiaries who are yet to buy the inputs simply because they do not have money since the contribution is on a higher side,” Kamanga added.
Currently NPK fertilizer is selling at MK22 800 and Urea is at MK21 00 in some agro-dealers and going by the fixed value of coupon of MK15 000 it means farmers are required to contribute around MK13 800 to access two bags of fertilizer.
But Deputy FISP Coordinator in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development said farmers should be grateful to government as the MK13 800 beneficiaries are required to contribute is not that exorbitant compared if they were to buy fertilizer without government subsidizing for them.
According to Osborne Tsoka if the farmer is paying for something government has already paid for then it is not exorbitant.
“The farmer should be appreciative that actually they have been given a boost by the Malawi government looking at the real cost of inputs against a farmer who has not received any.”
Government decided to fix the coupon value to avoid the previous scenario where government has been spending more than what has been budgeted.
Commenting on the implementation progress of this years’ FISP, Tsoka said so far they are not yet satisfied as some areas are yet to be supplied with inputs.
“Currently nationally, only 72% of NPK fertilizer has been redeemed by beneficiaries and 69% for Urea, with the Southern region ranking high while the Northern region is ranked the lowest. As of now we are not impressed as at now we were supposed to be around 88% for NPK or so and Urea around 75%,” Tsoka said.
“When we opened up, some suppliers were not on the ground and we had to change the system such that currently there is an increase in the uptake of fertilizer. However, since we are not yet impressed we have called for a meeting with suppliers to discuss areas they need to polish up.”
“Notable areas where fertilizer has not yet been distributed are remote areas and hard to reach areas because of the rains we are experiencing in the country.
The weather has slowed down the process, but officials are hopeful that after meeting with the suppliers they will begin distribution in those areas.