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Affordable Inputs Programme closes at 85 percent

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SET— A man inspects a goat kraal he has
constructed in readiness for livestock supply

The Ministry of Agriculture on Monday closed this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), indicating that 85 percent of fertiliser had been redeemed by the close of business.

This year’s programme has also seen 71 percent of seeds and 80 percent of livestock being redeemed, according to the ministry’s spokesperson Grecian Lungu.

“Farmers have, under AIP, managed to redeem about 3,245,626 bags of NPK fertiliser and 3,048563 bags of Urea, representing an average of 84.72 percent. While on seed, a total of 2,640,970 packets have been redeemed,” he said.

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This year, the government distributed live goats to farmers in the Shire Valley instead of fertiliser and seed coupons. This was so because most farmers in the Shire Valley do not use fertiliser when farming, hence they preferred livestock.

As a result, the Ministry of Agriculture distributed about 48,056 live goats under AIP as at the close of the programme on Monday.

But despite this, there are some districts like Mwanza that have registered only 57 percent of AIP redemption rate, meaning that a lot of farmers in the district did not buy the commodity.

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In addition to that, there were some logistical challenges that forced them to redeem their products long after the scheduled time, forcing farmers to plant crops without fertiliser, which is likely to negatively affect production.

“Most farmers failed to secure fertiliser such that, by the time they were buying the commodity, their maize had already grown. This is so because a lot of suppliers failed to procure the fertiliser on time. This has affected AIP this year,” said one of the officials at Machinga Agriculture Development Division.

Meanwhile, the government has, as indicated in the budget statement that Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe presented to Parliament, allocated about K109 billion for next year’s AIP, which is a huge reduction from the K196 billion which was used during the just-ended programme.

To reduce bills incurred in programme implementation, the Ministry of Finance has announced that government would not use middlemen when importing fertiliser and other commodities under the AIP.

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