It never rains but pours for the 2015/16 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) which has suffered another setback following revelations that coupons for the 1.5 million beneficiaries are not ready.
In addition, government is yet to sign contracts with seed companies for the seed to be dispatched, information The Nation has seen indicates.
Under the programme, beneficiaries redeem four subsided farm inputs — two types of fertilisers, legume and maize seed—using coupons.
In terms of deliveries, a logistics report shows that about 11 percent of the fertiliser under the programme has been dispatched to rural depots despite the rains having started in some parts of the country. The percentage represents about 17 000 metric tons (MT) of the total 150 000MT for the programme.
In terms of beneficiaries, about 82 500 farmers can benefit from the fertiliser dispatched to deports, according to our calculations.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza, in an interview, said the programme was beset by problems beyond the ministry’s control.
He said: “There is nothing we could have done. We started everything late, we had no money due to depreciation of the kwacha, but coupons will be ready in two weeks. So, it is not a problem and no cause for worry.”
According to Chiyembekeza, the coupon contractor was assigned late due to logistical hiccups.
He said: “It takes a month for the contractor to have ample time to produce the coupons and since he was only told late, that is why we have these hiccups. But there was nothing we could have done. I know this could delay planting in some parts of the country, but really what would we have done? There was simply no money.”
Chairperson of Seed Trade Association of Malawi (Stam), John Lungu, said seed cannot be dispatched because government has not provided coupons.
He said: “We need to have a contract, then we can begin the process. Right now, we are only dispatching the direct dispatches, but for Fisp, we have not started.”
In an earlier interview, Salima Central member of Parliament (MP) Felix Jumbe, who chairs Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, described the 2015/16 Fisp as “messy” due to the hiccups it is facing.