The Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) for the 2020/21 growing season will be launched today at Jali in Zomba.
Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe said the launch will be presided over by President Lazarus Chakwera.
He said the beneficiary farmers will not use coupons but their national identification cards (ID) which legitimate dealers will swipe on their designated smartphones to sell the inputs.
“The system will help to reduce cases of mismanagement of the inputs as the system is connected to the National Registration Bureau where once the farmer purchases the inputs from one centre will not be able to buy it at another selling point,” Lowe said.
The minister further indicated that suppliers have been dispersed across the country inclusive of hard to reach areas to enable farmers not to walk long distances to access inputs.
Lowe warned the suppliers or agro-dealers involved in any form of malpractices over the affordable input will be arrested.
“The objective is to help farmers to have the inputs in time that will enable them to grow enough products that will contribute to food security in the country,” he said.
Civil Society Agricultural Network (Cisanet) executive director Pamela Kuwali yesterday applauded government’s efforts for increasing the number of beneficiaries to 4.2 million.
But she expressed concern that previously subsidy programmes have been associated with a number of challenges, including fraud, corruption and logistical issues especially in hard to reach areas.
Kuwali believes by opting to use the e-voucher system this year there will be effective implementation of the AIP.
“In its current design AIP skews the agricultural budget and efforts at the ministry towards the food security while it is an important priority that promises gains in the short term it falls short of fully supporting the current objectives of the National Agricultural Policy,” she said.
Meanwhile, Zomba district commissioner Smart Gwedemula yesterday said the district is ready to host the launch.
He said most farmers in the district have finished land preparation in anticipation for the growing season.
“Government will pump in more money in AIP, therefore, farmers should show appreciation to government by using the inputs for the intended purposes if hunger is to be a thing of the past in the country,” Gwedemula said.