Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Lobin Lowe MP, has assured Malawians that Affordable Inputs Programme [AIP] implementation is on track and Government will deliver its promises.
Lowe has appealed to all farmers to work hard and adhere to the extension advice being provided to make sure that inputs are utilized optimally and realize the benefits.
He appealed to the general public to report any strange happenings or suspicious maneuvers for necessary action.
Speaking in Lilongwe when giving updates of the AIP, Lowe said the process of mandatory national Identity Cards [IDs], have revealed some challenges including improper capturing of farmers national IDs saying some farmers are sharing one ID numbers and other farmers have no IDs.
Lowe said the process resulted in back and forth exchange of the farm household registers between National Registration Bureau [NRB] and the concerned districts to make sure that they conform to the NRB registers in terms of ID details saying the process has also unearthed some duplications and registering of minors in some households for the purpose of increasing of the opportunities to benefit from the program.
He said the NRB is now finalizing validating households’ registers ‘ to date, 98 percent of the farming households have been validated, and the Ministry is now uploading farm inputs to those households saying so far,87 percent of farming households have been uploaded, expressing optimistic that this will be completed within this week.
The Minister said Government has contracted 83 private fertilizer suppliers and two public institutions to supply and retail fertilizer to program beneficiaries, 11 seed suppliers to supply and retail their seed to beneficiaries.
He said Malawi has significant quantities of inputs, 166,437 MT in the warehouses and 17,844 MT in the various retailing markets across the country, about 178,354 MT of fertilizer is in transit to Malawi and is to be delivered to retail markets in the coming weeks.
…..’’For seed, the Ministry has established that there is going to be enough improved certified maize seed to support smallholder farmers in the program,’’….said Lowe.
He appealed to the smallholder farmers to take care of their ID cards so that they can smoothly access the inputs under the program.On Covid -19 pandemic, the Minister said Government has procured 6,000 re –usable face masks, 204 bottles of detergents,204 bottles of hand sanitizers and 204 buckets for hand washing for all EPAs saying these are currently been distributed to the EPAs and each field staff is expected to get sets of face masks and bottles of sanitizers to be used when serving farmers during trainings, input purchase and general extension service delivery.
By Vincent Gunde