A renowned expert in trade says he sees nothing wrong with a fertilizer procurement deal that government has secured with a Romanian company, East Bridge, for this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
East Bridge is a Romanian firm that deals in Agriculture, Real Estate, Medicine, E-Government and Renewable Energy.
Saturday’s Weekend Nation newspaper carried the story that wrongly presented the deal as a repeat of last year’s AIP where K750 million was paid to Barkaat Foods Limited only to learn that the firm has no capacity to deliver.
A renowned Malawian trade expert, with an impeccable track record at World Trade Organisation, says what government has done shows that there was due diligence in the country’s systems to avoid a repeat of last year.
“I have noted that government has stopped using agents in purchasing AIP fertilizer. This is commendable. From my research through my contacts at WTO I hear that East Bridge is a legitimate company with vast experience in mechanized large-scale commercial farming,” said the expert who chose to remain anonymous in respect of WTO regulations that limit former workers to comment on matters of this nature.
He touted the commodity exchange deal that the two sides have struck as a win-win situation which will go a long way in transforming Malawi’s agricultural sector.
The supply of AIP fertilizer by East Bridge under the commodity exchange deal is expected to save government some US$498 in its treasury.
“Such arrangements may even benefit the purchasing country more because it saves forex and improves the Balance of Payments.”
East Bridge has shown commitment to the deal by establishing a special company in Malawi called East Bridge Commodities and Logistics. The Malawian subsidiary, which will create 500 jobs, has been set to fast track the delivery of the 600,000 metric tons of fertilizer.
Malawi Gazette has also learnt that East Bridge has already purchased some of the fertilizer and will begin shipping it into Malawi in few weeks’ time.
Some extended value to the deal, apart from job creation for locals, is that it will buy and aggregate produce from local farmers at competitive prices. It will also find foreign markets for the produce in Europe and Asia thereby bringing into Malawi the much needed forex.
Some quarters have already praised East Bridge for their decision to venture into meg farms in the foreseeable future.
There are also promising hints that the company will set up a fertilizer manufacturing plant in Malawi for both chemical and organic fertilizers by the end of 2025.