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Subsidised farm inputs ready from next week

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Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe Tuesday told Parliament that the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) is ready to roll out, targeting the 4.3 million smallholder farming households.

Lowe said the programme will be launched next week with warehouses holding up to 160,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser readily available out of the total 428,000 metric tonnes.

“We will be launching the programmes next week considering that we have enough reserves to kick-start the programme. My ministry has also taken into account areas that receive rainfall early. Those will be priority areas,” he said.

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Lowe also said 35 percent of the expected fertiliser is on the way and that by November, the country will be safe in the implementation of the programme.

He dismissed fears that the use of voter certificates in collaboration with National Registration Bureau (NRB) among farmers when accessing the inputs may face problems in some hard-to-reach areas that face connectivity challenges.

“The ministry has developed a good technology; it has a good system with a wonderful back-up and my team has tried it. We have done some testing. Soon they will be out to do some dry testing to make sure that the system is working perfectly. The only challenge will be isolated areas which have network problems,” Lowe said.

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While government is working on AIP, Members of Parliament (MP) asked for support for most vulnerable families that are currently facing hunger.

Mzimba North MP Yeremia Chihana said his constituents experienced heavy rains which led to disasters and asked the minister to conduct a vulnerability assessment so that issues of hunger may be addressed.

He said K10 billion has been allocated to NFRA for buying the grain from cooperatives.

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