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Malawi government queries Fisp figures

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Malawi government has trashed the January Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) findings that said nearly 40 percent of targeted Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) beneficiaries did not access subsidised seeds and fertiliser.

In its January Food Security Outlook Update, Fewsnet indicated that due to delays in the programme, 40 percent of farmers did not receive subsidised seeds and fertiliser. The report called for an immediate strategy to counter food deficits and food gaps for approximately two months that may result from the anticipated later-than-normal harvest the country is expected to experience.

“Assistance programming in the form of cash and in-kind food transfers will end in February due to funding gaps and a pipeline break.

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“Since a later-than-normal harvest is expected in May and a smaller-than-expected green harvest is expected in April, households will face livelihood protection deficits and food gaps for approximately two months, resulting in stressed and crisis acute food insecurity outcomes from March,” the report indicates.

However, Secretary for Agriculture, Erica Maganga, disputed the figures, claiming that as of February 1 this year, only 4.7 percent of those targeted were yet to access the soil-enriching inputs and seeds.

“It is not true that 40 percent of the farmers have not accessed the inputs. To date, 142,927 metric tonnes out of 150,000 metric tonnes, representing 95.3 percent of fertiliser, has been accessed by the programme beneficiaries as of February 1, 2016. This shows that only 4.7 % of fertiliser is yet to be accessed by the programme beneficiaries,” she indicated in response to a questionnaire.

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Meanwhile, the ministry continues to disburse the inputs with at least three months to go before the end of the 2015/ 16 growing season.

According to Manganga, the ministry expects to wind up the programme in due course.

She, however, admitted that the logistical challenges that the ministry experienced delayed the programme.

“Besides that [the logistical challenges], the ministry has been able to push 2.9 million bags out of the expected 3 million bags within a period of two months which is very remarkable,” said Maganga.

Asked how the ministry is preparing for a possible food shortage in the country, Maganga said the ministry is banking its hope on irrigation and drought-tolerant crops that farmers are being encouraged to plant.

“The ministry is intensifying irrigation in all the potential irrigable areas. Other than this, the ministry is on a campaign to promote planting of drought tolerant crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes,” she said.

She said the ministry is on course as far as the calendar for conducting the Agriculture Production Estimate Survey (APES) is concerned.

“The computation of the figures is being conducted from 2nd to 5th February, 2015 at Simama Hotel and the figures will be made available to the general public thereafter,” she said.

Fewsnet is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on acute food insecurity created in 1985 by the US Agency for International Development (Usaid) and working in more than 35 countries across the globe, including Malawi.

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