There are fears of low crop harvest in Chitipa, Nkhata Bay and Nsanje districts as some farmers are yet to receive fertiliser under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) one month after the first rains.
Government, however, says farmers should not worry as it has already dispatched the bags that should be distributed within the week.
The three districts were among the 12 where government is implementing a Fisp Pilot Reform Programme involving the private sector in distribution of the inputs.
Fisp deputy coordinator Osborn Tsoka said in an interview suppliers in Chitipa, Nkhata Bay and Nsanje withdrew at the eleventh hour, thereby contributing to the failure farmers in the district planted with the first rains. He said the percentage of the affected farmers will increase if the fertiliser delays further as most maize will be knee high by then.
But soil scientist Patson Nalivata said in an earlier interview delayed fertiliser application often results in poor yield.
He said: “When a seed is planted, the food that is stored in the endosperm is only enough to let it germinate and once the seed germinates, it needs extra food and that is when fertiliser becomes important.”
The other districts government is implementing the pilot project are Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno, Balaka, Salima, Nkhotakota, Dedza and Mchinji.
These were targeted following reviews that the pilot programme would reduce malpractices as experienced when government was involved in distribution of the inputs.
In an earlier interview, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza asked private sector Fisp suppliers to fully own the programme by serving even in rural areas.
However, spokesperson of the Fisp private sector suppliers, Veria Kumwenda, denied that the private sector had withdrawn. She said they were offered to deliver to certain parts of the country and they turned down. n