Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Principal Secretary Dorothy Banda says government will use a satellite tracking system to trace vehicles carrying the subsidised fertiliser to minimise incidences of diversions and theft.
In an interview last weekend in Lilongwe, Banda said apart from using the satellite tracking system, transporters will not be allowed to choose their preferred delivery destinations as was the case previously.
Said Banda: “We are coming up with mechanisms that will make this year’s subsidy programme a success. For the first time in the history of Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), we will be using a satellite system (GPS) that will track all vehicles carrying fertiliser from the loading bay up to their delivery point.
“We will also not allow transporters to choose for themselves which districts they want to be allocated to deliver the fertiliser as was the case before since this somehow contributed to the mess that characterised Fisp last year.”
Banda, however, could not disclose how much government will spend in tracking the vehicles but hinted that they are working closely with donors to make sure that losses are minimised.
Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) chief executive officer Prince Kapondamgaga, who is also spokesperson for the organisation, commended government for the initiative but suggested that transporters must be thoroughly scrutinised before they are given contracts.
“As FUM, we are very happy with this initiative, but government must put in place preventive and not curative measures because the subsidy programme if messed up makes the poor farmer suffer even more,” he said.
During the 2012/13 Midterm budget Review in Parliament, opposition parties described the Fisp as a failure because many farmers failed to access the cheap fertiliser.