Malawi gets K7.7bn from UK, Norway and Ireland for farm inputs

Malawi government has received a boost from Ireland, the UK and Norway who have released over MK 7.7 billion in support of  in support of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)  for the 2011/2012 planting season.

President Bingu wa Mutharika introduced the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in 2005 to improve national food security and lift the productivity of smallholder farmers after several years of drought brought poor harvests.

The scheme is widely seen as successful in achieving both goals, but expensive. During the 2010/11 farming season 1.6 million farmers received vouchers to buy heavily subsidised fertilizer and maize seed, costing the government and donors 23 billion kwacha (US$152.3 million).

Farmers are now in the process of preparing their fields and planting will start as soon as the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services gives the green light.

Lipenga: Delighted

Minister delighted

The donors’ combined contribution to the FISP this year will help to provide subsidised seeds and fertilizer to 1.4 million farmers. Donor funds make up more than a third of the planned FISP budget.

The announcement has been strongly welcomed by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr. Ken Lipenga and the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Prof. Peter Mwanza.

“This additional support for seeds, fertilizer and fuel is a valued contribution to the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme and to assure continued food security in Malawi. We have already started the process of making sure that this funding is immediately put to good use and fertiliser is distributed in time for planting,” said Mwanza.

Lipenga also expressed his satisfaction at the announcement:“I am delighted to welcome this joint donor announcement of support for Malawi, which demonstrates again the importance of working together for the good of all Malawians.

“This partnership is essential in meeting the challenges that face us and allows our smallholder farmers to produce the good food that their families need. These contributions are in Forex which will also ease current macro economic pressures over the coming days” said the Minister.

Costs

The grants cover the costs of all the seeds and part of the fertilisers as well as the cost of fuel to transport the fertilisers throughout the country given the current fuel shortages.

The donor funding is already being put into effect and fertiliser distribution to markets is already gathering speed as a result of this support.

Donor announcement

Speaking at the announcement, Ireland’s Ambassador to Malawi, Liz Higgins, said, “Ireland is committed to ensuring that Malawian farmers can produce sufficient good food so that all Malawian families are well nourished in 2012”.

In acknowledging the very difficult circumstances facing Malawi’s smallholder farmers this year, Ambassador Higgins went on to say “Together with the UK and Norway we have worked very closely with the Ministers of Finance and Agriculture to agree this additional financial support for seeds and fertilizers and funding for fuel to distribute them immediately”.

Sarah Sanyahumbi, Head of DFID Malawi said, “DFID is keenly aware of the difficulties smallholder Malawian farmers have been facing in Malawi recently. For this reason we have increased our support for seeds this year.

“We have also, exceptionally, agreed to support the provision of fertiliser to ensure the timely provision of inputs to farmers before the rains start. Our support will help ensure farmers are able to meet their family’s food needs over the coming year.”

Norway’s Ambassador to Malawi, Asbjørn Eidhammer, added:“This year, Norway has assigned its budget support for Malawi to the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme and thus more than tripled our support for the programme. Like DFID, we have decided to support the provision of fertilizer in addition to seed.”

Ambassador Eidhammer went on to say “Improving agricultural production and food security remain key parts of Norway’s cooperation with Malawi. Through other programs we are promoting climate smart agricultural technologies and diversification that will increase smallholder farmers’ productivity while reducing their vulnerability to extreme and changing weather patterns.”

Breakdown

Total donor support for the FISP 2011/2012 is MK 7,761,200,000

Britain through DFID has controiubted a total of  MK 5,075,200,000

Norway has given a total of  MK 1,876,000,000 .

The Irish Aid contributed a total of MK 810,000,000

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