inister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe says 22 Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) suppliers will have their contracts terminated for failing to fulfill their contractual obligations.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Friday when he addressed the press, the minister said starting this week, the 22 suppliers that his ministry has identified as non-performers will have their contracts terminated.
He said as of December 3 2020, 61 suppliers out of 83 were selling fertiliser to farmers.
Said Lowe: “The redemption rate among farmers at national level is at 40 percent. As of now 145 237.9 metric tonnes, which is 2 979 667 bags of fertilisers, has been sold against a targeted 370 000 metric tonnes, which 7 400 000 bags.”
The minister said he and other officials visited various selling points nationwide where they established that the network was not a problem as suppliers had alleged.
He said: “Network was working smoothly in all selling points. The main problem was the use of inferior phones, inadequate knowledge, absence of suppliers on the ground, inavailability of some fertilisers and retailers uninstalling or unregistering without consulting IT specialist.”
Lowe said most suppliers also prefer to conduct their businesses in trading centres, abandoning remote areas.
He assured farmers that fertilisers are now available nationwide and there is no need to panic.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture has cautioned AIP suppliers to respect contracts signed with government.
The warning follows concerns by Mchinji District Council that farmers in the district’s remote areas are yet to access the farm inputs under the programme as suppliers ignore the council’s recommendations on areas to operate.
The committee last Thursday held separate meetings with Mchinji District technical staff on AIP and beneficiaries in some selling points.
The committee’s leader of delegation Abel Kayembe, who is also member of Parliament for Dowa West, said it was sad to note that some suppliers are shunning hard-to-reach areas in preference for trading centres.
He said: “The contract that they signed has a provision that they will be supply in particular EPAs [Extension Planning Areas]. It is our plea that they should respect that provision because there is no point of signing a contract only to breach the agreed terms.”
Kayembe asked the district council to enforce the requirement for suppliers to reach the remote areas.
Last week, the minister announced that government had identified Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi and Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to supply AIP inputs as one way of speeding up the redemption process.