Friday, October 5, 2012

Mulanje farmers formulate laws for 2012 fertilizer subsidy program

By Elias Banda

In a bid to regulate management of subsidized fertilizer program, farmers at Namphungo, Traditional Authority Juma in Mulanje district have formulated laws to govern the distribution system. Last year, between November and December fertilizer selling was marred by corruption as people involved in the system were allegedly selling the farm input at K3000 per 50 kg bag instead of the mandated K500 by the Malawi Government and as a consequence,  legible farm family beneficiaries who received the subsidy coupons could not purchase the commodity. 
It was reported that those who bought fertilizer at a higher price came from outside Traditional Authority Juma.
The development triggered discussions among REFLECT circle members in the area and they agreed to mobilize the community for a meeting to find a lasting solution on the matter. A Community meeting was organized on September 28 at Namphungo Court and it attracted participation of political leaders, farmer interest groups, government extension workers, police and chiefs.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program has established and is supporting seven REFLECT circles in the area.
During the meeting, the community resolved that each person would be allowed to present only two coupons at the selling point. The group agreed that each targeted village would have its own day for buying fertilizer to avoid irregularities. The meeting also elected a committee that would verify names and ensure the program is done in a fair manner.
Area Development Committee (ADC) Chairperson in Traditional Authority Juma, Tikhiwa Pazala said the established rules would bind everyone and that law breakers would be punished. He said the rules would also lessen predicaments that even forced people to sleep on the queues several days without buying fertilizer. 
A REFLECT circle in session in Mulanje
Speaking at the function Traditional Authority Juma urged those involved in the subsidy program to respect people’s decisions and abide by the laid down procedures.
According to information sourced at Kamwendo Extension Planning Area (EPA), about 10,000 farm families are earmarked for the program which starts in October. Meanwhile, six selling points have been established at Muliya, Namphungo, Khwalala, Mangwaya Chimbalanga and Sitolo. Kamwendo EPA covers 99 villages while ADRA Malawi is targeting 60 village communities.
The Action for Social Change program is being support by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Mulanje, Lilongwe, Machinga and Mzimba.

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