The Malawi Agriculture Policy Advancement Agenda (Mwapata) Institute has advised the government to consider reducing number of beneficiaries under the Affordable Input Programme (AIP), remove some inputs or increase funding to sustain it as fertiliser prices skyrocket.
This is contained in the institute’s policy brief titled the Inorganic Fertiliser Price Surge in 2021: Key Drivers and Policy Options which addresses possible policy interventions to sustaining AIP amid rising fertiliser prices.
As the 2021/22 agricultural season approaches, it has been noted that fertiliser prices have increased by between 60 to 75 percent compared to the preceding farming season on account of the rise in global prices.
According to the policy brief, the only choice in the near term is how to distribute the shock between these three components of the AIP which are to reduce the number of beneficiaries, reduce the value of the subsidy, or increase the overall cost to treasury.
“Given the high margin between global and Malawian fertiliser prices— which is not unusual for a landlocked country—it may be sensible to incentivise domestic fertiliser production which is however not immediately obvious that domestic production would be cost effective,” reads the brief.
Speaking in an interview, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Chairperson Sameer Suleman said best option was to increase funding than reducing number of beneficiaries or removing some inputs.
He said reducing beneficiaries will affect production and reduce output while removing some inputs will render the farmers helpless in accessing the inputs on their own.
“I am sure government can get some funding meant for other purposes which can wait because hunger we are talking about life therefore resources from those departments can be used to compliment AIP,” he said.
Earlier last month President Lazarus Chakwera admitted pressure from the rising fertiliser prices faulting what he described as cartels of some traders who intend to frustrate the AIP.
He assured that no one would be removed from the beneficiaries’ list.
Speaking during this week’s weekly State House briefing, Chakwera’s Executive Assistant Sean Kampondeni could not clearly tell if additional funds have been secured for the programme.
“The President will this coming week have discussions with Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Finance to resolve those issues and the Malawian people should be assured that the President will deliver,” Kapondeni said.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
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