While farmers complain of delays in the disbursement of fertilizer under this year’s Farm Input Subsidy Program – FISP – the Malawi Government say close to 50% of the inputs has since been distributed to various selling points across the country.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Ulemu Chilapondwa told reporters in Lilongwe Tuesday that priority in the distribution has been given to areas which usually have accessibility challenges during rainy season to avoid transportation problems.

However, it is yet to be established as to when farmers will start accessing coupons which are used for buying the cheaper fertilizer.

“The focus is to make sure that when farmer’s access coupons, fertilizer should be available in the markets,” said Mr Chilapondwa justifying the delay.

He said as 50 percent of the FISP material has already been delivered to selling points countrywide, government is optimistic that it would beat the targeted distribution period.

Asked to comment on the continued reports of loopholes in the fertilizer transportation, Mr Chilapondwa said government is deploying efforts to tighten security.

Over the weekend Face of Malawi reported that 600 bags of fertilizer were returned from Mangochi after about 114 of them were found to be mixed with sand.

He said the ministry would issue a statement on the issue at in due course. An earlier statement however warned that contractors that breach their agreement with government will pay twice the commercial price of the commodity in question.

“The issue is being handled by the police. We can only give a statement when police gives us a report on the issue at hand but not now,” he said.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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