2.7 million farmers purchase AIP
Over 2.7 million farmers have managed to purchase affordable inputs under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) in the country. The figure represents 72 percent of total beneficiaries who have accessed the inputs.
Initially, over 4.3 million farmers were expected to benefit from the AIP but the figure was reduced to 3.8 million following a database-cleaning exercise which flushed out duplicate beneficiaries.
Agriculture Ministry AIP Coordinator Justin Kagona said farmers that had bought the inputs managed to get both types of fertiliser, NPK and Urea, worth 271 820 metric tonnes.
Earlier, it was anticipated that every beneficiary would have acquired the inputs by December 31 2020, but Kagona said they were still monitoring market trends to see if the deadline would be met.
“We will still monitor this week to see the progress but, if we still have farmers needing to buy [inputs] after the 31st, we will consider them by extending [the exercise] to January. But, again, that will depend on the assessment by the end of this month to see how many are remaining and to see [for] how long we can extend the programme,” he said.
In the Tonse Alliance flagship AIP, the government is spending about K158.3 billion using about K37,000 on each of the 3.7 million smallholder farmers.
“On the [issue of] funding, definitely there is going to be a saving of money somehow. But I would want to encourage suppliers to keep selling farmers the inputs. This is the time they should buy and apply their fertiliser in their fields,” Kagona said.
Apparently, over 2,500 farmers from Mwazisi Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Rumphi District are failing to access the inputs under AIP because there are no suppliers in the area.
Both Area Development Committee Chairperson Peter Singini and Agriculture Development Extension Coordinator Petros Nyasulu confirmed the development, saying many farmers were stranded as their crops needed fertiliser.
Singini said almost half of the 6,183 beneficiaries had not bought the inputs.
“People now have money in their pockets because they have shared their savings from village banks. Others who have also received [money from] social cash transfer programmes are just keeping the money because there is nowhere to buy fertilizers,” Singini said.
Rumphi West Constituency Member of Parliament Yona Mkandawire said he was aware of the problem, adding that he reported the matter to Agriculture Minister Robin Lowe.
Mkandawire said Lowe instructed Smallholder Farmers Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) to make supplies to the area but only 250 bags of fertiliser were made available.
Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Grecian Lungu said the ministry linked the community leaders to SFFRFM which, according to him, has started supplying the inputs.
Recently, Vice-President Saulos Chilima and Lowe said they would engage Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to help in supplying inputs under AIP in hard-to-reach areas, taking advantage of Admarc’s established satellite deports in rural areas.