Ministry of Agriculture has warned suppliers approved for the Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) against the sale of fake maize seed and fertilizer to farmers, saying they are low yielding and lead to food insecurity.
The portfolio’s minister, Lobin Lowe, sounded the warning on Friday during a dry testing event of the AIP’s biometric system held at Mitundu Primary School Ground in Traditional Authority Chingala in Lilongwe.
Lowe said AIP will only help Malawi attain food security at household and national levels if quality seed is provided to smallholder farmers to have high returns.
“AIP will cover all smallholder farming households in the country estimated at 4.2 million. This is a wide coverage of beneficiaries and we are hopeful that the program will help the country attain food security.
“It is against this expectation that today we warned input suppliers approved for the job to desist from any sort of corruption which would result in them selling fake maize seed or fertilizer mixed with sand so they can make abnormal profits,” Lowe said.
The minister said AIP will use a biometric system, an electronic application which will enable farmers to purchase the cheap maize seed and fertilizer direct from approved suppliers, so that they get exactly what is meant for them.
“From today’s dry testing, we have seen that the electronic system is ready for use. In this case, the farmer will just go to the supplier with their National Identification (NIDs) and the supplier will scan the IDs with a smart phone and the farmer will select the input they want to buy,” Lowe explained.
He said the system will not give room to duplication of purchase and it is also a barrier to unscrupulous traders who, over the years, have taken advantage of farm input programs for their selfish gain.
AIP Coordinator in the ministry, Justin Kagona said the Seed Services Unit (SSU) in the ministry has been granted the authority to monitor suppliers’ warehouses as well as the markets where trade will be done.
“SSU has the expertise of recognizing if the seed is certified or just tinted. Officials from the Unit have also been granted the authority to monitor the suppliers’ warehouses as well as markets across the country in order to promote fair trade,” he said.
He further warned that any vendor or agro-dealer found selling fake inputs will face the law.
Kagona then asked the approved suppliers to beef up their security so as to protect their inputs from unscrupulous traders who would tarnish their image and urged farmers to report to government anyone suspected to be selling local tinted seed.
Through the program, each farming household will access one 50 kilogram (kg) bag of Urea and one 50kg bag of NPK at K4, 495 each with a five kg pack of certified maize seed.
According to Kagona, the ministry will soon announce the date and venue for the launch of AIP, which will mark the start of the program.
Source: MANA Online