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Ombudsman calls for a re-think on AIP implementation

By Tabbu Kitta Kauye

File Photo: Farmers sleeping for days on fertilizer depots waiting for cheap fertilizer last year

Ombudsman Grace Malera has asked the government to consider reprogramming the Affordable Input Programme (AIP), saying it has for years failed to make the country food secure.

Malera made the remarks in Dowa when she presented the final report on systemic investigations on AIP implementation from the 2022 to 2024 growing seasons.

The Ombudsman stated that there has been some improvements in AIP implementation, among them good political will and programming at the technical level, which, she said, has increased yields at the household level.

“Although there have been some improvements, there are still some maladministrations that weaken the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the programme. For instance, corruption and unethical conduct by stakeholders involved in the programme,” she said.

Malera stated that AIP comes at a huge cost, and the cost-benefit analysis does not reflect the billions spent in the implementation of the programme, hence the call for the government to reprogram and rethink the programme.

The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended that, among others, in the long term, the government must continue putting on its agenda an exit strategy for AIP, and in the processing of graduation from AIP, there must be mechanisms for mitigating vulnerability in certain categories.

“In the short term, there should be fundamental remodelling of the subsidy programs, to optimise efficiencies, effectiveness and responsiveness to fit into the Malawi 2063 goals,” said Malera.

The National AIP Coordinator in the Ministry of Agriculture, Justin Kagona, said the government has already started reprogramming and improving the programme to ensure that beneficiaries are assisted.

Kagona said: “We have been reducing the number of beneficiaries from 3.8 million in 2020–2021 to 1.5 million in 2022–2023. This shows that the government is modifying and improving AIP.

“While we are reducing the number of AIP beneficiaries, we are increasing commercial production like mega farms, agriculture commercialization, and the provision of loans to commercial farmers under the Nation Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) to achieve food security.”

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