Some farming households in the country have started buying affordable farm inputs under Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) which President Lazarus Chakwera launched on Saturday, October 17.
The Nation spot-check on Sunday found that districts that have started accessing AIP fertiliser and seeds include Blantyre, Phalombe and Zomba which started on Saturday.
In an interview on Sunday, Ministry of Agriculture AIP unit coordinator Justin Kagona said the ministry is working hard to ensure that farmers access affordable inputs in time.
He said: “Some more districts are expected to start accessing this week.
“Some districts such as Mwanza had some issues with suppliers, but we are hopeful that farmers will start accessing the inputs on Monday [October 26].”
To ensure that farmers access affordable inputs in time, the unit has directed district agriculture development officers (Dados) to start selling affordable farm inputs if they tally 95 percent of names of beneficiaries against names appearing on national identity (IDs) cards.
In a communiqué we have seen from AIP coordination unit, there are fears that selling the inputs after matching all beneficiaries’ names against those on IDs will affect the programme.
Reads the communiqué in part: “Looking at the pace we are in correcting the household head IDs, we might not make it if we target to reach 100 percent to start retailing inputs.
“As such we have resolved to print and upload household data that is at least 95 percent accurate. The balance will be printed and uploaded as district 2.”
The unit further noted that in some districts, suppliers that were allocated to sell fertiliser and seeds have no stock, a situation that will also affect the programme.
“Some suppliers with fertiliser will be allowed to retail even though they were not allocated to those EPAs [extension planning areas],” adds the communiqué.
But in an interview last week, agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said further delay for farmers to access affordable inputs will affect them because the rains which have started in some parts of the country will cause logistical problems.
He said: “Government could have started this programme in phases, but we have invested almost everything into the first year without much lessons to be learnt. So if it fails, it will be a huge disaster for this country.”
In a separate interview, Farmers Union of Malawi president Frighton Njolomole said Malawians were desperate for affordable farm inputs.
In the 2020/21 National Budget, government allocated K160.2 billion to AIP targeting about 4.2 million farming households.