Thirty-two companies have submitted bids to supply fertiliser and seeds for the 2017/18 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) which this year is set to commence early.
In an interview yesterday, Fisp national coordinator Osborne Tsoka said the number of bidders represents an increase from last year’s 27.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development designated contract management for fertiliser suppliers to Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) which is currently evaluating the bids.
Tsoka said government put in place deliberate measures to avoid a recurrence of logistical challenges experienced last year.
“Everything is on time this year. For instance, the bid documents have been opened a month earlier than last year. The process of coupon production is also underway and at an advanced stage,” said Tsoka who was recently appointed spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
He said this year’s Fisp is expected to start in November to enable suppliers ferry the inputs in time to hard-to-reach areas which become impassable during rainy season.
But Tsoka could not indicate when the prospective suppliers would be unveiled saying that will be known once all other processes have been completed.
He said: “There are other processes to follow like getting the no objection from the Office of the Director of Public Procurement [ODPP], Government Contracting Unit and the Anti-Corruption Bureau [ACB], once all these processes are done that is when the suppliers will be awarded the contracts.”
Tsoka said should all the 32 firms qualify after their capacity assessment they will participate in the programme which, like last year, has been allocated K33.15 billion in this year’s national budget.
Out of this K33.15billion about K27 billion will go towards purchase of fertiliser while K5.15 billion is meant for procurement of seeds.
Last year’s Fisp was dogged with irregularities, including scarcity or late delivery of inputs which led to some beneficiaries selling their coupons.
The Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) and opposition political parties, notably the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), have been asking government to phase out Fisp as it has not produced results and instead should go for universal subsidy programme.