By Tabora Bojang
The National Assembly committee on Agriculture is set to open an inquiry into the biddings for the purchase of fertiliser by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The farming community continues to vent frustrations after the National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation, formerly GGC, announced that the price for a bag of fertiliser this year is D2,500 from D700 last year.
The Agric committee, headed by Upper Nuimi NAM Omar Darboe, Tuesday summoned Agriculture Minister Demba Sabally to respond to farmers’ concerns about the exorbitant price.
According to chairman Darboe, the committee ordered the ministry to provide names of companies who took part in the bidding to supply the fertiliser and the criteria used to select the most qualified bidder(s).
“We have given them a week from now to provide us with all the documents concerning the entire bidding process; how the contract was awarded to the supplier and the criteria used to select the most qualified and responsive bidder.”
He said the committee will then sit over these requested documents and review them in due course to assess whether the reasons provided prevail on the ground.
Asked if the committee suspected any abnormalities which prompted a probe into the bidding, Darboe replied: “It would be too early for someone to pre-empt that. This is why we asked for all these bidding documents and all those who applied or showed interest and how they arrived at awarding the contract for the supply.”
According to the lawmaker, Minister Sabally and his team informed them that they would like to see a reduction in the price but they are faced with huge difficulties.
“The committee tried to push them to find ways of reducing the price for the farmers. They made it clear to us that they would also want a lower price but somehow it was not possible. They informed us that they are also engaging their donor partners to see how they can come in to subsidise more on behalf of the farmers. But in an instance where that is not possible, the D2500 price of a bag will stand,” Darboe said.
He said the minister has also claimed before the committee that the government is subsidising D1500 per bag and they can only sell it to farmers for D2500.