Police in Ntchisi have arrested a marketing officer at Malomo Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) Depot for allegedly conniving with 28 vendors to sell them fertiliser and seeds under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
The arrest followed a joint operation between Ntchisi Police Station and Central East Police Region officers.
In an interview on Tuesday, Ntchisi Police Station spokesperson Yohane Tasowana said they were tipped off that some vendors were buying farm inputs.
He said: “During the search, we confiscated 54 national identity cards [IDs] which did not belong to the people.
“We understand they wanted to use the national IDs to buy the farm inputs thereby depriving the targeted beneficiaries of their right to purchase the subsidised inputs.”
Tasowana said the 28 vendors and the admarc official appeared in court on Monday to take plea and have since been given bail.
“They will appear in court again on January 13 [today] and 19,” he said.
Ntchisi district chief agriculture, environment and natural resources officer Siliro Magomero condemned the tendency to access cheap farm inputs at the expense of poor people.
He said he was optimistic that justice would prevail since the matter is in court.
“Ntchisi is a district favourable for agriculture, as such, denying farmers their right to access farm inputs is unfortunate,” said Magomero.
He appealed to farmers not to be coaxed by vendors as government has spent a lot of money on the programme for their benefit.
In December last year, police in the district arrested a village head for allegedly stealing IDs belonging to five people in his village.
The programme is targeting 75 828 beneficiaries in the district.