Malawi: Farmers to Pay K7,500 for a Bag of Fertilizer in Affordable Inputs Programme

16 September 2021

Farmers will this year part ways with K15, 000 to redeem two bags of fertilizers each in the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Lobin Lowe, has disclosed.

This is K6, 010 more than what they paid in the 2020/21 agricultural year. Last year, each farmer paid K8, 990 for two bags.

On the other hand, the government contribution on seed will be fixed at MK3, 365 per five kilogramme of seed pack, with farmers' contribution to vary depending on the prevailing market prices of each cereal variety.

Lowe made the announcements in Lilongwe during his first press briefing ahead of the AIP implementation for the 2021/22 agricultural season.

The objective of the briefing was to inform the nation on how the government is going to implement this year's programme and provide an update on the progress of the processes.

Lowe said just like last season, the farmers will still be entitled to one bag of Urea, one bag of NPK and one five kg cereal seed pack.

"The cost of fertilizer is estimated at MK27,000 per bag whereby government contribution will be MK19,500 whilst farmer contribution will be MK7,500, which is equivalent to the price of a bag of maize when sold at government minimum price of MK150 per kg, unlike last year when it was MK4,495. This year Government contribution on seed will be fixed at MK3,365 per 5kg seed pack. Farmer contribution will be varying depending on the prevailing market prices of each cereal variety," said the minister, adding that the opening up of the farmer contribution on seed will give an opportunity to farmers to buy seed of their choice.

Lowe also announced that in addition to crop inputs, the government will provide livestock (goats) on pilot basis in Nsanje and Chikwawa, as a direct substitute of crop production inputs.

He said as such, some farmers in the two districts will get two goats each instead of fertilizer and seed.

"Livestock beneficiaries in pilot districts will be expected to pay MK7,500 per she goat and Government contribution will be MK20,500," he narrated.

Lowe said Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) and Smallholder Farmer's Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) will supply 34 percent of the total tonnage while the private sector suppliers will retail 66 percent of fertilizer requirement, seed and livestock.

He said each supplier will be allocated retailing areas within Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) to reduce congestion and travel distances.

"Just like last year, suppliers will be retailing their inputs using the electronic system (E-AIP) that Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, E-Government and other agencies has developed. Let me warn those suppliers that would want to increase fertilizer prices unnecessarily that government will not revise these prices," emphasized Lowe.

On the use of national registration cards to redeem the inputs, Lowe assured the nation that the government will allow Malawians with expired cards to still access their inputs using their expired cards.

On the other hand, farmers who lost their cards, but already started the processing of renewing them, will redeem their inputs using receipts provided by National Registration Bureau (NRB).

He urged the farmers to keep their receipts safe.

"Government will use its agencies such as Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS) and Malawi Bureau of Standards to monitor quality of seed and fertilizer in the whole input retailing chain so that the farmers access inputs of good quality and in right quantities. In addition, this year farmers will be able to check seed quality through the seed scratch card using their phone. Various stakeholders like FUM, ACB, Police, Programme Managers, District Commissioners and Civil Society Organisations will be expected to monitor and give feedback when something that needs Government's attention is observed," said Lowe.

Meanwhile, Lowe has indicated that government is looking at ways to make AIP self-sustaining where farmers will be asked to give two bags of 50kg maize to ADMARC soon after harvest and in exchange they will, at a later date, get one bag of UREA and one bag of NPK in preparation for 2022/23 season.

He reiterated the Tonse Alliance government's continued commitment to supporting the farmers through the AIP.

The Minister said the government acknowledges that the smallholder farmers are the backbone of this country's agriculture sector and ultimately, the national food security.

"The support under AIP therefore, enables farmers to have access to affordable agricultural inputs and in turn, guarantee household and national food security. Let me, therefore, take this opportunity to urge all of us to be patriotic in the implementation of the programme for the betterment of the poor farmer in the villages and Malawi at large. May I urge members of the Press to take this message to the nation and continue during the period the AIP will be in progress," said Lowe.

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