Malawi police in the capital, Lilongwe at the weekend arrested four people, including two officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, on suspicion that they have been involved in smuggling to Zambia subsidised fertiliser under the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (Fisp).
The police also impounded a vehicle carrying 900 bags of the subsidised fertiliser which has a market value of about K14.6 million (about $43 000) whereas two more suspects are said to be on the run.
National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo confirmed the arrest, but declined to give particulars of the suspects for fear of jeopardising investigations.
“At the moment, we have arrested the driver of the vehicle [a Hino registration number BLK 2776], the owner of the vehicle and two employees at the Logistics Unit [of the Ministry of Agriculture],” she said.
Manjolo said the owner of the vehicle was allegedly conniving with the officers at the Logistics Unit to load bags of fertiliser which were never delivered to the intended depot.
She claimed the scam was discovered after the Logistics Unit tried to cross-check with the depots where the fertiliser was destined to be delivered, only to discover that no deliveries were made in the designated areas.
The Logistics Unit operates within the premises of the Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM).
The fund’s regional manager Patrick Milanzi said although he was aware of what happened, the issue does not directly involve the fund.
Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security spokesperson Sarah Tione confirmed the incident, but said although the Logistics Unit is under the ministry, she cannot comment since police are still investigating the issue.