By Blair Mhone
Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale seems to have taken the challenge to save the Affordable Input Program head-on with gains already registered just a week into the job.
Kawale was appointed last week by President Lazarus Chakwera and replaced Lobin Lowe who had embroiled the ministry in some mishaps, especially when handling the AIP procurement.
With the rainy season already starting in some corners of the country, Malawians are expecting a swift government response to save the program and so far Sam Kawale seems to be up to the task as per recent developments being undertaken by the ministry of agriculture under his reign.
For instance, the minister accompanied by minister of transport Jacob Hara yesterday visited Mozambique to make sure all logistics to get fertilizer to Malawi were in place.
During the trip, the minister met with Port officials and discussed how fertilizer meant for AIP could be transferred off ships quickly so that it is transported to Malawi.
Writing on his Facebook page to update eager Malawians on the AIP progress, Kawale said the two visited the ports of Beira and Nacala where they had meetings with the company that is tasked to transport the fertilizer to Malawi.
He said during the meeting the two managed to negotiate that 10,000 metric tones of fertilizer from Morocco, which will be blended to make 52,000 metric tones of NPK, be offloaded quickly and be sent to Malawi.
“We managed to negotiate that the remaining 15,000 MT of the 30,000MT of fertilizer be offloaded a few days earlier than scheduled. As we speak, all the fertilizer was offloaded much earlier than scheduled.
“We also managed to negotiate with the company tasked to package the fertilizer into 50kg bags to work overtime to deliver fertilizer on time. As we speak, the packaging is happening 24/7 and in two warehouses,” said Kawale.
He added that the two ministers managed to discuss with the Mozambique Government to help out in expediting customs related issues so that trucks move fast.
“As we speak, the trucks are moving into Malawi as smoothly as they possibly can. It might not be 100% perfect, but we are making great progress. We managed to discuss with the Mozambique government of a possible Trains without borders agreement. As we speak, Hon. Jacob Hara will finish the negotiations and sign an agreement that will see trains go through Nacara Corridor and Sena Corridors without glitches,” added the minister.
Meanwhile in a related development, President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday also appointed Minister of Youth and Sports Richard Chimwendo Banda as the new task-force chairperson of a committee responsible for the implementation of the AIP replacing minister Sam Kawale as one way of ensuring efficiency in the implementation of the program this year.