Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamveka witnessed the arrival of the first consignment of farm inputs subsidy programme (FISP) coupons as the second and last dispatch is expected to arrive in the country in a fortnight.
Briefing the media at Chileka Airport in Blantyre on Friday where the coupons arrived from the United Kingdom, the Minister said the arrival of coupons in September was the earliest in three years and that the development marks the beginning of this year’s agricultural season.
“If you go back to your records, you would observe that this is the earliest ever we have received the first batch of coupons for the past three growing seasons,” Mwanamveka said. “We expect to receive the final batch of the coupons in two weeks’ time from today.”
“For your information this season we are two months earlier than last year considering the arrival of the last dispatch sometime mid in October,” he pointed out.
Mwanamveka said the early arrival of the coupons would solve the problem of late distribution which affected the whole exercise thereby contributing to low agricultural production among smallholder farmers.
“You would recall that farmers could be issued with coupons as late as December with some even receiving them in January. This resulted in little input use efficiency,” he said, adding that this was the reason government through the ministry of Agriculture has worked tirelessly to have the coupons in time.
The Minister said the early arrival of the coupons would eventually help farmers to prepare for their farming activities in good time.
“The timely arrival of coupons has a lot of benefits. For example, farmers would have ample time to source money for top up and therefore redeem the inputs without hassles, such that farmers would plant with the first rains,” he emphasized.
Mwanamveka disclosed that this year’s FISP programme would follow the reforms undertaken by government in that the programme would benefit both the private sector and smallholder farmers.
“A special consideration has been made on farmer seed top up. We would like farmers to get seeds almost for free so that we have fertilizer use efficiency. We have fixed the coupon value for maize as K6, 000 per 5kg pack and K2, 050 for legume seeds, all this with consideration to current market prices, ’’ he added.
“Unless there is a very huge and unanticipated rise in seed prices, legume seed would be completely free and the top-up price for maize seed would be either zero or very insignificant,” Mwanamveka said.
He said in the case of fertilizer, government would contribute K15, 000 for either of the two bags the farmer would purchase, noting that government’s total contribution towards a single farmer would be K38, 050.
On fertilizer contracts, Mwanamveka said small holder farmers would access the inputs through the Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi.
He assured that government has put strict measures to protect farmers from unscrupulous suppliers.
“To ensure fertilizer and seeds quality, a team of scientists led by the Director Agriculture Research Services would continue monitoring the value chain so that the farmer is not any point duped,” he hinted.
Mwanamveka said government would work closely with Seed Traders Association of Malawi in ensuring farmers had access to improved and certified seeds of maize and legumes.
“As for fertilizer our team will test it right from supplier’s warehouse up to distribution points to make sure that the farmer doesn’t get counterfeit product,” he said.
FISP is being financed to the tune of K36.15 billion and the first batch of coupons covers eight districts mainly from the Southern Region which experience early rains and the distribution will start almost immediately after the administrative issues have been completed.
At least, 900, 000 farming families stand to benefit from the programme this year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :