Around 300 extension workers involved in the Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Kulima Better project have reported that they have not received their monthly facilitation allowances of K60,000 for the past nine months.
The master trainers for the farmers state that FAO had communicated last year that, in line with the principles of decentralization, the allowances would be disbursed through the ten project implementation district councils of Chitipa, Karonga, Mzimba, Nkhata-Bay, Kasungu, Salima, Nkhotakota, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, and Mulanje. However, no disbursements have been made as of yet.
They since have lamented that the development is affecting their work since the allowances were meant to buy fuel and maintain their motorcycles.
Officials from some district councils, such as Nkhata-Bay through its chief agriculture officer, Lerce Banda, have confirmed the arrangement made by FAO but stated that no funds were received by the council since October of last year.
"If the workers are complaining about the allowances, to me it's true. They have not been channelling the funds through the council and they don't give us clear reasons as to why they do that up to now since October last year," he corroborated.
Similarly, Sellina Malaga, the chief agriculture officer of Salima, referred the matter to the FAO head office.
FAO has not yet responded to the issue. However, we possess a leaked facilitation allowance distribution list for the district agriculture officials and extension workers, which indicates that the organization still has outstanding allowance balances to pay for the period between October 2022 and May 2023.
The Kulima Better project which is phasing out soon is a five-year complementary program aimed at empowering communities with nutrition-sensitive production practices.