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2 million farmers redeem inputs

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Gracian Lungu

The Ministry of Agriculture has said two million beneficiaries of the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) have redeemed their inputs.

This means at least 1.7 million beneficiaries are yet to redeem their inputs.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said the figure translates to over 55 percent of farmers that have, so far, benefitted from the programme.

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Lungu also said at least 8,000 beneficiaries who were supposed to receive cheap goats in Chikwawa and Nsanje have received their livestock.

However, agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula has described this year’s AIP as most difficult as far as distribution of inputs is concerned.

Nkhono Mvula said beneficiaries have been facing challenges to access fertiliser as vendors have penetrated the market.

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“The fact that one million beneficiaries have not redeemed their inputs shows that people are frustrated because they cannot access fertiliser,” he said.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira, whose organisation has been monitoring implementation of AIP, said they had been overwhelmed with complaints from beneficiaries, who air out their views through the 3056 toll-free number.

“The majority of complaints are bordering on vendors monopolising the purchase of AIP products. Some traditional leaders are also demanding money for authorising letters to the sick and elderly people who cannot walk to buy the commodity,” he said.

Kambwandira also said some centres with stock were facing network challenges.

He added that some beneficiaries are covering long distances before accessing the inputs and, in some cases, officers at some selling points are demanding extra money from beneficiaries.

The subsidy programme is pegged at K140.2 billion and targets 3.7 million smallholder farmers.

President Lazarus Chakwera launched the programme in October last year.

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