Soaring food prices: Where did the bumper harvest go? – Edward Kareweh to Agric Ministry

Soaring food prices: Where did the bumper harvest go? – Edward Kareweh to Agric Ministry

 

The General Secretary of the General Agric Workers Union, Edward Kareweh, has partly blamed the ongoing food price inflation on the inefficiencies of the government to timeously acquire and distribute fertilisers to farming communities.

According to him, the government had delayed distributing fertilisers to farmers due to shortages caused by their inability to meet the financial demands of the fertilizer suppliers.

This had caused farmers to miss the fertilizer application window, largely contributing to low agricultural output in the harvest season.

Speaking on PM Express Business Edition, Edward Kareweh stated that “We continue to produce, but we produce under very challenging circumstances. For instance, you can see that we hardly had fertilizer at the time that it was most needed.

“And the Ministry itself came out to say look, we have acknowledged that there was a shortage of the fertilizer and it was due to government’s inability to pay for previous supplies, and they even went further to explain that those suppliers had to borrow money from the banks to purchase the fertilizer from outside to supply and that they were servicing those loans on high interest.

 “So because of that those suppliers refused to give further fertilizer to the Ministry under the Planning for Food and Job. By the time the Ministry got the fertilizer it was too late to apply the fertilizer on the farms and when you even do, the yield will be low because agriculture is one that requires timeous application of fertilizer and we missed it again.”

He further added that the government had also failed woefully to control the smuggling of fertilizer across the country’s borders.

“The Ministry came out to say that there was so much smuggling of the fertilizer, granted that that was true, it even went further to say there was an innovative way of smuggling the fertilizer.

“Now donkeys carrying the fertilizer unaided by human beings across the borders and they could not do anything because there were no human beings. That was so much annoying and it was an admission that the state and in this case not the Ministry alone, but the state had failed to control smuggling,” he said.

 “And that effectively means that no matter how much fertilizer the state had imported, and intended to distribute to farmers, it never got to the farmers. All was smuggled or much of it was smuggled,” he added.

Edward Kareweh noted that despite these indicators, the government had insisted that there will be a bumper harvest.

“And we said there was going to be a low output in agricultural production, but the Ministry disagreed with us. They even went further to say that there was going to be a bumper harvest. I am expecting them to come and tell us where did the bumper harvest go?

“So what we are experiencing today is an indication that we had low output because the rice we are eating today, if it is local rice, it is not the one that has been produced in 2022,” he said.