By Jameson Chauluka & Justin Mkweu:
President Lazarus Chakwera Monday touted farmers’ clubs as a way to go if the country is to meet its food security goals.
He said this in Thyolo District, where he inspected crops.
Chakwera noted that farmers in clubs utilised the subsidised farm inputs under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) better than those who operated as individuals.
“What I have learned is that farmers who acted individually were more susceptible to people who wanted to take advantage of them. The Affordable Inputs Programme was plagued by practices that were not right by those trading and those who were supposed to benefit but farmers who were in clubs were more prepared to know how to access the inputs in time,” he said.
The President inspected crops of farmers who have employed new farming technologies.
One of the farmers, Patricia Katchire, said her maize crop survived although rains were falling erratically in the area.
Speaking earlier, Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe said the government would prioritise farmers clubs when implementing this year’s AIP, saying most of those who sold their subsidised inputs were acting individually.
Lowe then reported that the maize harvest would drop by 17 percent, from 4.5 million metric tonnes (mt) last year to 3.1 million mt.
He, however, said the country had surplus maize harvested last year such that the country had enough maize regardless.
After the inspection tour, Chakwera addressed a development rally at Luchenza Primary School Ground.
In another development, State Vice President Saulos Chilima has expressed satisfaction with the rate of public reforms in Nsanje and Chikwawa districts.
Chilima said this when he inspected sites in the two districts Monday.
The development comes a year after the Tonse Alliance-led administration launched the reforms.
“We have had a good chat and we have noticed that there is good progress made on the reforms and the good news is that traditional leaders can speak to the reforms at the same level of comfort as the people in the District Commissioner’s office,” he said.
Chilima started by visiting Chimwalambangu Irrigation Scheme Reservoir in Nsanje, before having a meeting with Nsanje District Council officials and other stakeholders before heading to Chikwawa where he met with district council officials and finished at Thabwa Value Addition Centre.
The inspections started in the Central Region and, after he is done with the Shire Valley, he would inspect local councils in other districts.
The reforms were launched in a bid to improve service delivery in the public sector.