Government reduces AIP beneficiaries to 1.7 million
By Cathy Maulidi:
Government has reduced the number of Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) beneficiaries from 2.5 million in the current farming season to 1.7 million in the coming season.
Secretary for Agriculture responsible for Irrigation Services Geoffrey Mamba confirmed the development Tuesday during a meeting with members of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Cluster of Parliament.
In an interview, Mamba said implementation of this year’s AIP is in line with Malawi 2063 aspirations, hence the drop in the number of beneficiaries.
“We are going by what is indicated in the Malawi 2063 [vision], where we are planning to be reducing [the number of] beneficiaries gradually. Therefore, what you have seen is a result of reforms happening within the agriculture sector. This year, the figure [number of beneficiaries] that has been indicated in the budget is 1,750,000.
“However, the final decision on the number of people to benefit will be made by the Cabinet after its meeting,” Mamba said.
Mamba said the government will also be relying on donations.
“Again, this year, we want to be quick, in terms of our actions. Procurement was taking much of our time; therefore, we have planned that, around July, August, September, we should be ready with the fertiliser.
“In terms of where we are sourcing the fertiliser, we can’t say now but we, as a ministry, would like to be procuring directly from the manufacturers,” Mamba said.
Earlier, AIP Coordinator Justin Kagona told cluster members that, from the K117 billion that has been allocated to AIP, K110 billion will go towards the purchase of fertiliser, K585 million will go to the livestock [goats] component and K6.56 billion will go towards the seed component.
But cluster co-chairperson Werani Chilenga said the money set aside for AIP is not enough.
“We, as a cluster, will make sure that we lobby the Ministry of Finance to find means and ways of making sure that 1.7 million farmers are reached.
“We have also agreed that the issues to do with fertiliser should now be handled by Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi and no other body. Issues to do with seeds should be handled by the Ministry of Agriculture because of the expertise they have,” Chilenga said.
During 2023-24 pre-budget consultations organised by the Budget and Finance Committee, Economics Association of Malawi Executive Director Frank Chikuta proposed the gradual exit of AIP, suggesting that AIP funds should be channelled to the mega farms initiative.