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Panic as Affordable Inputs Programme drags

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Tamani Nkhono Mvula

Three weeks after President Lazarus Chakwera launched this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), only 5.1 percent of the targeted beneficiaries have accessed fertiliser and two percent of the farmers have bought seeds under the initiative.

Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Chairperson Sameer Suleman and agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula told The Daily Times that the figures were on the lower side.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, a total of 379,559 bags of fertiliser have been sold through selling points across the country.

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Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said, by November 13 2021, selling points had sold close to 240,000 bags of NPK fertiliser, over 141,000 bags of Urea and 61,500 packets of seeds.

Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation and Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi are some of the main suppliers of fertiliser.

Lungu said seed sales had lagged behind those of fertiliser because the government offered contracts to seed suppliers late.

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On livestock, Lungu said there were outstanding issues that had to be taken into consideration, one of which being certification of livestock to ensure that it is disease-free.

However, Nkhono Mvula said, considering that the rainy season was about to start in some parts of the country, the programme could, at least, have been at 50 percent implementation point by now.

He also expressed fear that, once the rains start in all parts of the country, farmers in hard-to-reach areas would have challenges to access inputs as some roads may become impassable.

“Being at five percent at this time of the year, I may say we are not on the right track unless we are assured that all the necessary inputs will be in the country in the next two weeks or so,” he said.

Nkhono Mvula added that the programme should have started much earlier because it has been marred by logistical challenges all along.

Meanwhile, Suleman has said the committee is not surprised with the development, adding that the programme is destined to fail.

“We have, all along, been saying that the government was lying, in terms of the quantity of fertiliser they said the country had. They have been claiming that the country has enough fertiliser and what we knew was that this time would come; time they would no longer hide anything anymore,” he said.

This year’s programme is targeting 3.7 million beneficiaries who would buy one 50 kilogramme of NPC and Urea at K7, 500 each. Each AIP beneficiary in the Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje will get two goats.

Over 107, 707 farmers are expected to benefit from this year’s AIP, out of which 30 000 are expected to receive livestock at affordable prices.

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