Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Food Security has said it cannot force private fertiliser traders to reduce prices of the commodity but it will discuss with government to find a way of sourcing it.
The committee made the stand yesterday when it met Fertiliser Association of Malawi on why Malawians are being subjected to buy fertiliser at K40 000 and prices keep rising.
The committee was concerned with skyrocketing of fertiliser prices from about K23 000 and believes that the prices are exorbitant.
The committee chairperson Sameer Suleman said they will talk with government on the possibility of importing Affordable Inputs Programme fertiliser directly from manufacturers.
He said government should ensure that Malawians have a better deal.
“As Parliament, we are concerned and we want government to move in quickly and maybe use the government institutions like Admarc and SFFRFM [Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi] to buy fertiliser directly and supply farmers for AIP,” said Suleman.
He said Admarc and SFFRFM have already given assurances that they can get cheaper fertiliser than what is being offered on the market; hence, the need to empower them.
He said Admarc indicated it can get the 50 kilogramme bag at about K20 000, while SFFRFM can source the commodity at K21 000 to K23 000.
Suleman also advised the association to give people a better deal. He said Malawians should not be exploited.
He feared that some traders were holding fertiliser that they bought cheap.
“Let them keep their fertiliser. We are going to find a cheaper way of sourcing,” said Suleman.
Regulating fertiliser was another recommendation that the committee made. Suleman said it does not make sense for government to regulate maize prices and fertiliser.
He said government should also table in Parliament the Fertiliser Bill during the November sitting to address challenges in the management of the commodity.
SFFRFM chief executive officer Andy Kalinde said if properly empowered, the company can bring sanity in the pricing of fertiliser.
He said if SFFRFM can become the fertiliser price leader, other players would offer prices that farmers can afford.
Kalinde added that the price of fertiliser currently cannot go beyond K30 000, but proper prices would help retain beneficiaries of AIP.
Fertiliser Association of Malawi executive administration officer Mbawaka Phiri said the association is open to discuss how best the two sides can help a farmer.
Fertiliser prices have jumped from around K23 000 to about K40 000.
President Lazarus Chakwera also expressed concern on the rise in fertiliser prices and promised to engage suppliers on the same.