The clergy in Mzuzu have told President Lazarus Chakwera that private agro-dealers are to blame for high fertiliser prices in the country.
They urged the President and his Tonse government to intervene by revamping and empowering State produce trader, the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to start supplying fertiliser to smallholder farmers.
The sentiments come amid an outcry from farmers on the recent fertiliser price hike from about K20 000 to K40 000 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag.
Speaking at Mchengautuba in Mzuzu on Sunday during silver jubilee celebrations of Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi, the diocesan Bishop Fanuel Magangani said government should intervene to protect poor farmers from the unscrupulous fertiliser suppliers.
He said government can do this by making Affordable Input Programme (AIP) affordable through Admarc.
Said Magangani: “If properly empowered, Admarc can take over the supply of fertiliser from private suppliers.
“We know that it can’t be exactly the way it used to be in the past, but something surely can be done.”
The bishop also called on Chakwera to ensure that the number of AIP beneficiaries, which was at 3.7 million households last year, is not reduced as previously announced.
“It is not about the farmers, but Malawi as a whole because the farmers feed the whole nation,” said Magangani.
In his speech, Chakwera appreciated the church for providing honest guidance and counselling for him to perform better.
He said: “You do this to build a better Malawi for all of us.”
But in a national address on Saturday, Chakwera reversed earlier decision by the Ministry of Agriculture to reduce the number of AIP beneficiaries to 2.7 million from 3.7 million.
In an earlier interview, Admarc general manager of Rhino Chiphiko said the firm has been trying to import fertiliser which could be landing in the country at about K17 000 and be sold to farmers at reasonable prices, but it failed because of cartels created by the private sector.
He said Admarc does not have financial muscle because government has failed to give it letters of credit to access funds for importation of fertiliser.
“We have been trying to import fertiliser and offer to farmers at affordable prices, but we have been denied the opportunity to do so because of cartels,” said Chiphiko.
He said his organisation could not raise the money for importing the commodity.
The Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi silver jubilee celebrations were held on the theme 25 Years with Life in Christ, a Call to Maturity.
The prayers were also attended former president Joyce Banda and former vice-president Khumbo Kachali, top government officials, and Tonse Alliance party leaders, among other high-profile people.