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Chakwera Launches 2022/23 Affordable Inputs Programme

By Blackson Mkupatira

Dedza, November 19, Mama: President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has launched the 2022/2023 Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) with a call for beneficiaries to utilize the farm inputs wisely to achieve food security at household level.

The launch took place at Maonde Primary School Ground in the area of Senior Chief Kachere Dedza District.

In his speech, Chakwera said despite the Russian-Ukraine war affecting prices and availability of fertilizer across the globe, his government made efforts to ensure that small holder farmers in country access cheap fertilizer.

He further said that many people did not want the programme to take sharp because government eliminated the use of vendors to buy fertilizer and went on to purchase straight from manufacturers to avoid complications.

He then said he was optimistic that the Affordable Inputs programme, together with other poverty alleviating programmes like social cash transfer and public works, has the ability to end hunger and reduce poverty in the country.

“Let me also warn about the selling of AIP fertilizer to people from neighboring countries as this time around we are working with Police and Malawi Defence Force to tighten security,” he said.

On the current hunger situation in the country, the state president said government has already sourced funds to purchase relief maize and that in other districts distribution has already commenced through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA).

Chakwera then reiterated that his government will continue constructing roads and finding reliable markets for smallholder farmers so that they can easily transport their produce to and from markets and be economically empowered.

At this point, the state president appealed to the beneficiaries not to be enticed to sell their fertilizer to traders, saying they have the responsibility to ensure that they use the inputs in their fields so that they meaningfully benefit from the initiative.

“As farmers, you also have the responsibility to listen to the advice of agricultural officials and work with cooperatives so that you harvest more crop to sustain your families until the next harvest,” he added.

On his part, Chairperson for the AIP committee, Richard Chimwendo said the Russian- Ukraine war and the coronavirus pandemic has made prices of the commodity to skyrocket since most of the fertilizer we use in the country comes from Russia.

He then disclosed that government is putting at least K45,000 per bag of fertilizer and K5,000 on seeds just to ensure that the local farmer can afford farm inputs.

“For example, farmers will be paying K15,000 per bag of fertilizer instead of K65,000 and K10,000 instead of K15,000 on seeds.

Unlike in the past when vendors used to sell AIP, Chimwendo said this time around Smallholder Farmers Revolving Funds has been designated to supply the fertilizer using their shops and Admarc. In far to reach areas he said mobile vending trucks will be used to ease accessibility.

He said the African Development Bank and World Food Programme have each supported the country with 20,000 metric tons of fertilizer, whereas the country of Morocco has donated 10,000 metric tons.

Member of Parliament for Dedza South-West constituency, Clement Mlombwa, said during the last two years’ people in his area faced a lot of problems accessing AIP fertilizer as they had to cover long distances to access the cheap fertilizer.

He, however, was quick to quick to say that this time around he was hopeful that there will be smooth implementation of the programme as government has put in place measures to bring farm inputs closer to the beneficiaries, among others.

“But let me stress the need to boost security within the border area as a greater portion of the AIP fertilizer is lost to Mozambique through uncharted routes instead of benefiting the intended households,” said Mlombwa.

Speaking earlier, Senior Chief Kachere commended government for continuing with the affordable inputs programme, arguing it has proven to promote food security among poor farming households who could not afford to purchase farm inputs.

He also hailed government for coming to the rescue of house-holds who have been hit by hunger due to poor harvest during the last planting season because of the effects of climate change by providing relief maize.

He then asked the state President to consider extending the construction of Lithipe 1 – Lobi road in the area, saying many farmers will benefit from the development as it will ease the challenge many farmers were facing when transporting their farm produce to markets.

In the 2022/2023 AIP, about 52,000 metric tons of fertilizer will be distributed to over 2.5 million farming households. 31,000 goats will also be distributed in Balaka and Rumphi from the K149 billion kwacha invested.

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