Fertiliser reserves 350000 MT short

Fertiliser reserves 350000 MT short

Foreign exchange challenges have left the country with a 350 000 metric tonnes (MT) shortfall, according to Fertiliser Association of Malawi (FAM).

Currently, Malawi in-country fertiliser stocks stand at 50 000MT, according to figures shared by the association’s executive administrator Mbawaka Phiri.

In a written response, she said it is expected that most of the available fertiliser will be used during the winter-cropping season, with some to be used later this year during the rainy season.

Phiri: Stock held under collateral

Phiri warned that companies under the association were still struggling to secure forex to cover their previous orders and, as a result, they are reluctant to make orders in the quantities that they normally would.

She advised that fertiliser is a vital component of the mega farms initiative, saying if the country is to increase commercial crop production significantly, fertiliser use will also have to increase.

Said Phiri: “FAM hopes that the government will consider this in the upcoming season and help companies secure forex much like is done for fuel and medicines. Inorganic or chemical fertiliser is still an essential product for agriculture and unfortunately, Malawi still has to import it.

“Companies generally issue their orders by June/July to allow for the three to four months needed for importation. Malawi consumes approximately 400 000 to 450 000 MT a year, assuming availability is not a challenge, so we are currently short by 350 000MT.”

As an alternative to inorganic fertilisers, senior land resource conservation officer for Mzimba District Olivia Nyalira in an interview yesterday suggested the use of organic fertilisers such as Mbeya, whose use this year is approximately at 70 percent nationwide.

“Previously, adoption of Mbeya organic fertiliser was low, roughly around 40 to 50 percent usage. But usage has increased in the 2023/24 growing season because of soaring prices of inorganic fertiliser,” she said.

Last week, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale pledged to work with the new FAM leadership to strategise on how they can work together to bring in the soil-enriching ingredient.

He said this following the ushering in of the association’s new executive committee.

Last October, the association said the country was unlikely to import 300 000 MT of fertiliser due to the persisting foreign exchange shortage that affected imports of various commodities.

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