The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha on Thursday launched the 2018/2019 Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) with a call to all concerned parties to resist corruption.
Mwanamvekha said the law will not spare anyone found indulging in corrupt activities starting from the distribution of coupons to the buying of the subsidized commodities, warning that the practice would frustrate government’s plan of achieving food security.
“FISP was introduced basically to enable small-scale farmers have access to farm inputs to engage in agricultural production so that there is food security at both household and national levels,” the Minister said.
“Last year we arrested and prosecuted 58 people who were convicted of corruption and other charges during the same program and this year government will not spare anyone be it a police officer, agro – dealer or whoever it may be,” he added.
Speaking at Mtaya Primary School ground in the area of Traditional Authority Amidu during the launch of this year’s FISP in Balaka, Mwanamvekha observed that those found in the wrong are deemed as enemies of development hence the need to have them punished.
“Let me commend government through the leadership of President Professor Peter Mutharika for making sure that this year’s coupons come in time as compared to the previous years.
“This will go a long way in making sure that farmers have the necessary inputs for their farming, thereby making it possible to have a successful agricultural season,” he said.
The Minister also toured Export Trading Company and Agora selling points at Ulongwe Trading Centre in appreciation of the suppliers’ preparedness for the task in the program.
Mwanamvekha said FISP remains an important program both to government and farmers because food security is one of the key priority areas for the country’s leadership since government always strives to make Malawi a food secure nation.
Speaking earlier, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Dr. Joseph Chidanti Malunga assured that the committee would make follow ups on issues of FISP considering that its money is approved in parliament.
“We will go around the country to see that beneficiaries are really benefitting from the program. In fact, we began supervising right from awarding of contracts to agro-dealers and we will continue to supervise just to see to it that there are no irregularities in the program,” Malunga said.
“This year’s program is unique because the coupon is linked to the beneficiary’s National Identity card, making it more waterproof for people to cheat,” he added, calling upon all players in FISP supply chain to open selling points in hard-to-reach areas as well so that people have easy access to the inputs.
Balaka District Council Chairperson, Thomson Bwanali commended government for considering Balaka to host the launch of the program.
One million beneficiaries are expected to benefit from 2018/2019 FISP and the value for the coupon for a 50 kilogram bag of fertilizer has been pegged at K15, 000.00, K5,000.00 for a five kilogram of seed coupon and K2,050 for a two kilogram legume seed coupon.