CSOs rally MPs on overhaul of AIP
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have asked government and Members of Parliament to consider an overhaul of the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) amid challenges that marred the programme in the 2022-23 farming season.
In a statement reacting to President Lazarus Chakwera’s State of the Nation Address and the 2023-24 National Budget presented by the Minister of Finance on Thursday, the CSOs — Oxfam Malawi, Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn), Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), and Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) — want Parliament to discuss this matter.
“Oxfam and partners recommend through the clusters that the 2023-2024 national budget supports an overhaul of the programme,” reads the statement.
They recommend capacitating and using cooperatives with smallholder purchasing power, and fully supporting and investing in the mega farms initiative.
They say these farms have the potential to become the game changer to food security, commercial farming and growth of the country’s agro-based economy.
Further, the CSOs are calling for a national budget that is revolutionary and departs from the norm of business as usual.
“Oxfam and partners expect that the budget balances consumption and development on one hand and adequately supports the fight against corruption and pilferage.
“We, therefore, appeal that the 2023-2024 national budget should demonstrate the drive to embark on a journey to transformation. Thus, Oxfam and partners recommend a budget that demonstrates a mission to fight inequality and to end poverty and injustice,” it reads.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee Sameer Suleiman said the 2022-23 AIP was the worst in the history of the farm input subsidy programmes.
“We have been saying for a long time that AIP needs an overhaul; better yet abolishment. It certainly does not achieve its intended purpose. If it is not network challenges it is fraud involved and this year was just the worst as from the onset, money meant for the programme was misappropriated.
“So I agree with those sentiments. We have time to plan until the next farming season. Such mistakes should not keep happening in a programme that is planned for and even budgeted for,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said plans are already in the pipeline to overhaul AIP.
“They [MP’s] can do that but we [government] have already made plans to overhaul it. We will hear what they will say. This coming season will be different,” he said.
On Thursday Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe presented a K3.87 trillion budget titled ‘Sacrificing Today for a Better Tomorrow: Regaining Macroeconomic Stability and Growth through Collective Responsibility for Our Shared Future’.
The agriculture sector has been allocated K455.1 billion meant for wages and salaries, AIP and other projects.
The AIP has been allocated K117 billion.