24 August 2018

Malawi: 'Malawi Govt On Autopilot' - Publication Urges Probe On Pesticide Scandal and All Corruption Reports

A leading Malawi daily newspaper has called for government to investigate reports that 20 metric tonnes (MT) of expired pesticides - meant me to be destroyed - were stolen from the Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) warehouse and have now flooded the market where unsuspecting framers are buying.

In a report published by The Nation on Friday, the pesticides namely Super Guard Dust and Skana Super, went missing at SFFRF warehouse as they were waiting to be transported to Uganda to be destroyed.

According Pesticide Control Board acting registrar Misheck Soko the pesticide Super Guard Dust expired three years ago while Skana Super expired 10 years ago. He said government discovered the missing of the pesticides a couple of months ago.

In its editorial comment, the paper stated that Malawi's food security in the 2018/19 growing season will be be "significantly" affected considering that the pesticides have lost potency to protect crops from weevils, but they can also put lives of people at risk.

"This incident is, however, not surprising with increasing cases of corruption, fraud and theft reported in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs)," the editorial comment reads in part.

The publication said the expired pesticide scandal in not unexpected, saying the lot in government could be bigger and depper than what is reported in the media.

"What is disheartening, though , is the apparent lack of political will on the part [of] government to decisively deal with institutions," noted the paper.

It said despite media reports, no one has in recent times been arrested or prosecuted for theft or for flouting procedures in the public service.

"If government has the welfare of the people at heart, as it claims to, it should investigate all these scandals and prosecute those involved.

"Otherwise, cases of theft and corruption will continue to erode confidence people and donors have in State machinery and systems. A stich in time saves nine," the paper said.

In the report, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Grey Nyandule Phiri played down the impact of the presence of the expired pesticides on the market, saying it would only affect individual farmers at household level.

However, a Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment, says the expired pesticides have far-reaching consequences on the environment as they contaminate water and possibly affect aquatic life and the ecosystem in general.

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