Subsidy coupons delay—minister

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Minister of Agriculture Peter Mwanza has admitted that not all coupons for 1.7 million beneficiaries of the farm input subsidy programme have been supplied in the country.

Mwanza disclosed this in Parliament yesterday while responding to questions from MPs.

He said the last batch of coupons was expected to arrive in the country this weekend and would be ready for distribution to beneficiaries by next week.

It is only when a beneficiary has a coupon and a K500 that she can redeem fertilisers and seed.

“The coupons are coming from the UK and I admit there have been some delays. We are making arrangements to make them available. There are those districts in the Southern Region which have none and they will get the coupons,” Mwanza assured.

However, Mwanza’s admission puzzled Blantyre City West MP Tarsizio Gowelo who claimed that last week Tuesday the minister had said he was not aware that some districts had no coupons.

He warned that if government continued to give conflicting information on an important matter like the subsidy programme, hunger would be worse next year.

“I am heartbroken. I asked the minister this question last week Tuesday that there were no coupons in Blantyre, but he said he was not aware. Now he is saying coupons have not yet arrived so which is which?” Gowelo asked.

Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda came to the rescue of Mwanza when he asked the minister to bring to Parliament a comprehensive report of the subsidy and coupon distribution during next week Monday sitting.

The government allocated K40 billion to buy 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser and seeds for 1.7 million poor and vulnerable smallholder farmers.

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