By Taonga Sabola:
Government is to spend about K158.3 billion in the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) which seeks to provide cheap fertiliser and cereals to about 4.2 million farming households across the country.
Agriculture Minister, Lobin Lowe, told Parliament, yesterday, that government will spend about K37,000 for each farmer accessing inputs under the programme.
He said each smallholder farmer is entitled to access a 50 kilogrammes (Kgs) bag of NPK; a 50 Kgs bag of Urea; either five kgs of maize seed or seven kgs of sorghum or seven kg of rice seed, depending on the farmer’s preference.
According to Lowe, each farmer will have to pay K4,495 for each bag of fertiliser accessed and K2,000 for each pack of cereal seed of choice among maize, sorghum and rice.
“However, government will have to pay K15,500 on each bag accessed and pay K6, 000. for the cereals seed. This implies that government is contributing a total of K37, 000 per farmer on the package,” Lowe said.
He observed that the AIP will not sample farming households, adding that it will provide fertilisers and improved cereal seed to all 4,279,100 farming households under the database in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Lowe noted that the smallholder farmers will have access to a total of 427,910 metric tonnes of fertiliser split halfway between NPK and Urea; and about 21,396 metric tonnes of cereal seed.
“My Ministry did the registration of all farming household in the 2018/2019 farming season where 4,279,100 were registered. This register contains names of each farming household head and their National Identity Card number. A copy of this register is kept at every Extension Planning Area (EPA) office for reference and verification for all interested.
“The district consolidated registers were sent to National Registration Bureau (NRB) for validation, and the NRB observed that some National Identity Cards were wrongly captured and some did not provide their IDs. As a result, my Ministry is correcting these errors before we proceed with the implementation of AIP. To promote transparency, before implementation of the programme, these registers will be printed and will be displayed in strategic places within each district and communities for verification and validation by the communities themselves,” Lowe said.
According to Lowe, the tender for the warehousing, supplying and retailing of fertiliser was floated on July 29, 2020 and opening of the bids was done on August 16, 2020.
He said a total of 161 companies expressed interest to participate in the programme but 87 firms, of which 49 are owned by indigenous Malawians, were selected and are being cleared by Government Contracting Unit (GCU) before contract negotiations and signing.
Lowe said, alongside the 87 private companies, Admarc and Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) will also be offered similar contracts.
“Under favourable weather conditions, AIP is expected to lead to household produce about 32 bags of maize grain weighing 50 kg each on an acre (0.4ha). This will translate to about 6.8 million tonnes of maize to be produced.
“Considering the country’s annual maize requirement of 3.2 million tonnes, 0.22 million industrial use, 0.217 million tonnes of maize for SGR replenishment and a postharvest losses of 10.7 percent then an excess of about 2 million tonnes is expected and could be available for export,” Lowe said.
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