President Lazarus Chakwera has conceded the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), which replaced Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), is a big flop as subsistence farmers are failing to access affordable subsidized farm inputs.
In his weekly broadcast, Chakwera outlined three challenges facing to access low-cost inputs under the Tonse Alliance administration’s signature K160 billion AIP which he said are the logistical glitches, slow delivery of inputs and corruption.
Some parts of the country are already receiving planting rains although subsistence farmers are struggling to get the farm inputs.
“There are three problems affecting AIP. The first being network outages which is making it extremely difficult to retrieve information of the beneficiaries.
“To address these issues, the Minister of Information has had several engagements with the key stakeholders and I am pleased to inform you that these problems will be resolved soon,” said Chakwera in his weekly ‘Malawi Wa Tsopano’ radio broadcast on MBC.
He said corruption and slow delivery of the affordable inputs have also contributed to the chaos surrounding the implementation of AIP where beneficiaries access the low-cost fertiliser being redeemed at K4 950 per 50 kilogramme (kg) and hybrid seeds.
Chakwera reiterated his government’s commitment to making AIP work for the good of farm households in the country saying “some of these problems are machinations of corrupt-bent people who like profiteering and enriching themselves from programmes meant to empower the rural en-masse.”
In the run up to the court sanctioned presidential election, Tonse alliance politicians, including Chakwera, promised to lower the price of fertilizer from K21,000 per 50 kgs of fertilizer to nearly K4,000 once voted into power.
Over four million ordinary farmers across the country are expected to benefit from AIP.
Chakwera has warned some suppliers who to date haven’t fulfilled their contract obligations as in some areas farmers are still waiting for the affordable inputs.
“The Ministry of Agriculture is screening which suppliers haven’t delivered the affordable farm inputs and what has led to the delay in supply.
“Government cannot afford further delays and such suppliers risk rendering their contracts void,’’ he warned.
The President said in the new dispensation corruption will not be given an inch to flourish and thus warned those who are trying to frustrate the programme with their corrupt acts like overpricing, selling underweight quantities of the inputs and demanding kickbacks from farmers that the long arm of the law will catch up with them.
“There are some unpatriotic people who are trying so hard to frustrate the programme so they rip unsuspecting farmers.
“Others are also deliberately lying of network outages.
“I should assure you they will not achieve their ill motives,” said Chakwera.
He has charged the citizenry to report to relevant authorities those engaged in such malpractices.
He then assured the nation that Government will do everything in its capacity to make AIP successful and ensure food security at household and national level.
The country’s economy largely depends on agriculture and during this year’s Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) national conference it was resolved that Government should prioritise economic sectors that are key to thriving of the economy and benefit Malawians at large and this includes all interventions to boost agricultural productivity
Prospective beneficiaries have struggled to access the inputs under AIP which is using an electronic data platform. In some cases, beneficiaries, including women, are spending nights at retailers’ shops in a desperate need to buy the farm inputs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :