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Government retains AIP seed price share

Affordable Inputs Programme

Gracian Lungu

Government has maintained its contribution to this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) seed price at K3,500 despite an increase in the prices.

Currently five kilogramme of the seed is selling between K10,800 and K14,800, The Daily Times has established.

In the bid document that we have seen, government has ordered 12,439 metric tonnes (mt) of seeds for the programme, a drop from 18,000 mt last year at the price of K3,500 and indicates that the beneficiaries will pay the difference.

The bid document reads in part: “Government contribution shall be K3, 500 per seed pack and beneficiary contribution shall be the difference between government contribution and market price of chosen seed variety.”

This means that 2,487,800 farmers will benefit from this year’s AIP if each one of them gets one five kg pack of maize seed.

The Daily Times’ comparison of revised seed prices from two major suppliers in the country, Seed Co Limited and Bayer Malawi Limited shows that a five kg pack of maize seed is fetching between K10, 800 and K14,800 depending on the variety.

This means that farmers will be required to contribute between K7,300 and K11, 300 this season.

In an interview, Business Development Officer for the Seed Trade Association of Malawi (Stam) Supply Chisi said seed prices have indeed gone up and the government contribution of K3,500 will affect the uptake of the commodity.

Last season, government was still paying K3,500 and beneficiaries were paying K5,000.

“This means farmers will be required to top up to meet the retail price and if last year farmers were failing to top up an average of K5,000 what more this year when they are yet to recover from the effect of cyclones, the Covid pandemic and eroded buying power.

“They just issued a tender, we responded to it and we are waiting for the outcome but these delays will affect the coming season in that farmers may access the seed late in some markets. We have 27,000mt of seed currently and how much the government is procuring would help us plan how mucsh we can export,” Chisi said.

Agriculture expert Leonard Chimwaza said the government must consider improving agricultural productivity and the seed business in Malawi.

“The use of hybrid maize seed has been compromised in Malawi. Farmers’ purchasing power for improved maize varieties has dwindled. Most of the maize varieties which farmers’ plant are genetically poor. The government must strengthen the extension system service delivery so that farmers in Malawi must desist from recycling maize seed and start accessing genetically improved maize varieties,” Chimwaza said.

In a separate interview, a spokesperson in the Ministry of Agriculture Grecian Lungu while offering to check the quantity of seed under the AIP 2022-23 season said all other matters relating to the programme will be addressed by the responsible ministers.

“At an appropriate time the government will announce all necessary details about the programme but I can neither mention the proposed contribution amount for the government nor the number of beneficiaries this time around,” Lungu said.

In the 2022-23 national budget, AIP has claimed 85 percent (K109.5 billion) of the total agriculture sector budget. The preceding year’s budget had K142 billion for the programme.

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