Malawi: Ministers in Fire Fighting Over Messy Affordable Farm Input Scheme

12 November 2020

Three powerful cabinet ministers are in fire fighting over anger from ordinary people because of the messy cheap farm input program.

Subsistence farmers, mostly women, are forced to sleep over outside shops to access the affordable farm input.

Agriculture minister Lobin Lowe, Information minister Gospel Kazako and National Unity and Civic Education minister Timothy Mtambo held a news conference to explain how the government is dealing with the matter after president Lazarus Chakwera said on Wednesday that his whole village of Malembo in Lilongwe has been missed out of the list of beneficiaries.

Kazako said there will be significant progress since all the problems which were being encountered due to communication and networking have been sorted out.

"For instance, the internet protocol address which was bringing communication problems among suppliers has been sorted out as well as the software that create the interface with the hosts, suppliers as well as companies have required gadgets that are used in AIP," Kazako said.

Agriculture minister Lobin Lowe said his office has deployed staff to selling points for commodities under the Affordable Input Program (AIP) and check the quantity and quality of the fertilizer amidst information that some suppliers are selling underweight bags of fertilizer.

This comes amid varied concerns over how the program is being administered.

He said his ministry also has information that some suppliers are buying IDs from farmers to buy the fertilizer themselves.

Lowe said other suppliers are also shunning rural areas defying some clauses in their agreement adding that "any supplier caught in this malpractice will have their contracts terminated".

He said the ministry in conjunction with the Civic Education and information ministries have developed a hotline for farmers to report any fraud or challenges they are facing, the hotline is 3013.

So far, Lowe said a total of 251, 020 farmers representing 7% of the targeted farmers had managed to buy the fertilizer while 226, 887 farmers representing 6% of the targeted farmers had purchased the seeds.

"Currently the AIP programme is on 7% amidst the challenges that the ministry was facing. We are hopeful that before the rainy season starts the resources will have reached thousands of areas since they are many hands working," Lowe said.

He said highest sales were made in Zomba followed by Phalombe and Blantyre.

Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Mtambo, said his ministry is working tirelessly in issuing awareness campaign so that people in villages should report to right authorities whenever they have come across AIP malpractice.

"Through the awareness campaigns we have conducted in different areas, we will be able to trace down the areas where such misconducts are happening as the beneficiary will be linking with us directly through the free line of 3013 which has been given," Mtambo said.

The AIP is expected to benefit 4.2 million less privileged people which include the elderly, those living with disabilities orphans and many more.

More From: Nyasa Times

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