Farmers in the remote parts of Mangochi and Machinga are yet to access fertiliser under the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (Fisp), two weeks after government rolled out the programme.
Last year, farmers were spending a lot of money to buy, mostly, fertiliser at selling points, which were only allocated within townships. But despite a slight improvement this year, most remote areas still have no selling points.
In an interview, Sub- Traditional Authority Lulanga of Mangochi complained that people in his area are travelling long distances to procure fertiliser at Mpirilipili Trading Centre which is at least 40 kilometrers away from Lulanga.
“We have already appealed to authorities to look into the problem because people are spending a lot of money to cover the long distances something which, in part, can defeat the purpose of the subsidy programme,” he said.
The situation in Lulanga is not different from that of Lutende under Traditional Authority Namavi. The whole area, according to Member of Parliament for Mangochi Lutende, Francis Billiati, is being serviced by one selling point.
“If the situation does not improve, I am afraid that people in this area might not be able to harvest enough food this year as well. Last year, farmers failed to buy fertiliser despite that they had received coupons,” Billiati said.
Mangochi District Agriculture Development Officer, Owen Kumwenda, said currently his office is working on ensuring that subsidised fertiliser is available in all areas.
Kumwenda said the district is facing a problem of warehouses and they have now engaged local development structures to identify structures which can be used as warehouses for the fertiliser.
“Before we started distributing coupons, we engaged all the suppliers and we were assured that fertiliser will be distributed to all corners of the district. However, we have noted that we are facing a challenge to identify warehouses in most rural areas,” said Kumwenda