Two Catholic non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have asked government to terminate contracts of suppliers failing to supply adequate farm inputs, saying it is a breach of terms of contract.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national coordinator Boniface Chibwana and his Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom) counterpart Chimwemwe Phiri, in a co-signed statement, have condemned the manner in which the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) is being implemented in most centres nationwide.
The statement further asks government to swiftly resolve persistent network challenges which government said were being resolved a few weeks ago.
In an interview yesterday, Chibwana said AIP suppliers are in breach of contract by not supplying the subsidised fertilisers according to farmers’ expectations.
He added that the farm inputs distribution, which started over four weeks ago, has rendered farmers destitute with most having to queue for long hours without redeeming the inputs.
Chibwana said: “We don’t know which of these companies are failing to meet the conditions. But there are no fertilisers in almost all major centres. We think that those who are mandated to do the work are not doing the work needed.
“People have been rendered destitute and government should not subject people to this treatment. We are of the view that government should terminate contracts of those failing to supply inputs.”
However, the two NGOs have not given government any ultimatum f o r terminating contracts.
Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe said in an earlier interview that government contracted over 80 companies to supply farm inputs so that all the 4.2 million beneficiaries should redeem their share timely.
He added that government is investigating companies which may be in breach of the contract.
While admitting that AIP has been a mess, agricultural
analyst Tamani Nkhono Mvula argued that there is need also to understand the challenges which suppliers are facing in the process of distributing cheap farm inputs to the targeted population. analyst Tamani Nkhono
However, he agreed that there is need to terminate their contracts if there are good reasons to pave the way for contractors who can deliver.
“We have to understand that there is failure to supply fertilisers. If people have failed then government has to terminate their contracts. However, we need to understand challenges they are facing and the reasons why they are failing,” said Nkhono-Mvula.
Last week, President Lazarus Chakwera, in his weekly address, also expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the programme is being implemented.
In his radio address on Saturday, the President said he intends to meet Cabinet ministers to discuss how best government can resolve the AIP implementation challenges.
He said the problems mainly hinge on network issues where computers that have the database of the beneficiaries do not properly connect.
The challenges also include lack of supply of inputs in some centres.
Chakwera blamed suppliers, saying there is no excuse for their failure to meet their obligations because they won tenders after indicating they would be able to meet the demand.
He warned that “if those suppliers do not shape up, they will lose their contracts” as government cannot afford to have time wasted by “non-performing suppliers”.
The Tonse Alliance government promised during the campaign prior to the June 23 fresh presidential election that it will offer a universal farm input subsidy to Malawians. The government replaced the Farm Input Subsidy Programme with a new policy dubbed AIP.