Seed producers have cried foul over government’s decision to scrap off the seed component of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), saying it will negatively affect sales and harvest.
The decision means that seed companies who had already produced approximately 8 000 metric tonnes of seed in readiness for Fisp will have to dispose of the product at low prices or risk losing out completely.
But in an interview yesterday, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza said there is nothing government can do about the seed companies’ complaints.
He said: “The budget I have is only for fertiliser, legume seed, transportation and not maize seed. If we get money, we might include maize seed, but for now the decision has been made and there is nothing that can be done to address their concerns.
“You see, if they are afraid of huge returns, they must just reduce their prices; otherwise, people will always complain.”
But chairperson of Seed Trade Association of Malawi (Stam), John Lungu, said the impromptu decision will also affect production as most farmers will not be able to buy seed.
He said already seed companies have 11 000 metric tonnes valued at K14 billion.
Lungu also said the decision will worsen the hunger situation in this country.
“Farmers will resort to recycling grain and we all know grain does not increase yield. This means we will have low production.
Already, we have about 2.8 million [people] likely to face hunger. This means the number will double come next year. Already, this is a disaster.”
He further said the decision will not go down well in the face of climate change adaptation as hybrid seed is early maturing and drought-resistant.
Said Lungu: “Scrapping off seed will affect the whole agricultural chain. We have about 2 000 agro-dealers who are specifically trained for Fisp, this means they are out of bussiness and all the funds used for training [have] gone down the drain. Not to mention the growers of the seed, what becomes of their efforts and money? This is not good at all. Government should have forewarned us before surprising us.”
Recently, government removed maize seed in Fisp due to lack of funds.
The decision came after donors announced that they will not provide money for Fisp in the 2015/16 National Budget due to mismanagement of funds in the previous season. n