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Lazarus Chakwera lauds Affordable Input Programme

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Gospel Kazako

President Lazarus Chakwera has said the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) has put the country in a healthy food situation, citing the 2020/21 season projected bumper yield.

Chakwera, who led people including Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe and Information Minister Gospel Kazako in celebrating AIP’s successful implementation at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe Tuesday, said increased maize production signalled that the Tonse Alliance-led administration had lived up to its campaign promise on food security status.

The President’s remarks came after Kazako presented a report, from agriculture development divisions (ADD) across the country, projecting a rise in maize production, save for Shire Valley ADD— which will register a decrease of 13.9 percent due to bad weather.

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Chakwera said Malawi Congress Party and UTM manifestoes promised affordable farm inputs on page 30 and 36, respectively.

“The AIP is a fulfilment of our promise. The goal of the programme is simple: To end the cycle of hunger… and to make farming households the primary beneficiaries of their crop. It is also clear, from the quantities being projected for this year’s harvest, that the national yield will be the largest on record, which means our farmers are happier this year than they have ever been in any year.

“Having heard their [farmers] voices, I consider that opinion to be final. So, let all others’ voices forever hold their peace, kudya katatu kuja kwatheka, [mission accomplished: having three meals a day has become a lifestyle],” he said.

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Mzuzu ADD has a projected increase of 29.7 percent, Blantyre ADD 18.8 percent, Lilongwe ADD 16.6 percent while Machinga is expected to register an increase of 16.8 percent.

Lowe said the Tonse Alliance-led administration found only 3,000 metric tonnes (mt) of maize in National Food Reserve Agency silos when it came to the government’s portion.

He said this was the case despite that the silos had a total capacity of 217, 000mt.

“This government will fill the silos and farmers will be allowed to sell their harvest,” Lowe said.

Meanwhile, Civil Society Agriculture Network National Director Pamela Kuwali has advised the government to ensure that Agricultural Development and Market Corporation facilities are well stocked with maize and other produce.

Kuwali commended the government for reaching 90 percent of AIP’s beneficiaries.

“Our recommendation, though, is that AIP should be aligned to national agriculture policy goals. Specifically, issues of resilience and nutrition diversity must be addressed,” she said.

In February this year, the Ministry of Agriculture projected that the national maize harvest would increase by 17.5 percent, meaning that the country’s farmers would harvest 4,447,494mt in the 2020/21 season, up from 3,785,712mt registered in the 2019/20 season.

About 3.5 million farmers benefitted from the AIP.

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