The Ministry of Agriculture says it is consulting stakeholders on the Fertiliser Bill which Parliament is banking on to bring sanity in the management of the soil nutrient in the country.
A recent assessment of the national fertiliser regulatory authorities revealed that fertiliser production, importation, distribution, marketing and trade is regulated and controlled by multiple institutions.
The institutions are established under different laws in Malawi and in carrying out their duties they draw their mandate from their specific Acts, policies and regulations, a development that has previously led to conflicts and/or overlaps; hence, making it difficult to reach consensus on certain issues.
Parliament hopes that if the Fertiliser Bill is tabled and passed, it would help bring sanity in management of fertilisers, including pricing.
In an interview on Monday, Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Erica Maganga said there are a number of stages before it can be tabled in Parliament.
She said the ministry first had to work on the Fertiliser Policy following guidance from the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Maganga said: “Last year we finalised the Fertiliser Policy and it was launched in January this year. With that approval and launch of the Fertiliser Policy, we are now finalising the Bill
“We already had a draft Bill, but we wanted the Fertiliser Policy to be processed first before we can go into finalising the Bill.”
However, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Food Security chairperson Sameer Suleman suspected that there are deliberate delays on the Bill.
He said government should bring the Bill to Parliament during the November meeting. He said if government dilly-dallies, the committee will have the Bill tabled as a private member’s Bill.
“The Bill is a key to resolving challenges being faced in management of fertilisers. And the Bill will empower government to regulate fertiliser and put an end to skyrocketing of fertiliser prices but also protect farmers,” he said.
Currently, there is an outcry from farmers on the rising prices of fertiliser from about K20 000 to K40 000 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag.
In his national address on Saturday, President Lazarus Chakwera vowed to act on soaring fertiliser prices in the country.