Media reports have indicated that the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] will soon be engaging the Tonse Alliance led Government of President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera over the announcement that it has made a decision of scaling down Affordable Input Programme [AIP] beneficiaries for 2021-2022 farming season.
The Malawi Parliament approved MK16O billion for Affordable Input Programme [AIP] in the 2020-2021 national budget and this was later revised downward in the Mid-year budget to MK142 billion and in 2021-2022, the same budget of MK 142 billion was maintained.
DPP Parliamentary spokesperson for Finance in the National Assembly, Hon. Joseph Mwanamvekha was quoted in the media questioning Government on why it has reached a decision of scaling down AIP beneficiaries on its own after the passing of the 2021-2022 National budget describing the development as not only worrisome, but disappointing.
The Ministry of Agriculture in its recent statement announced that due to financial constraints and the rising of prices of fertilizer, it has decided to have Affordable Input Programme beneficiaries scaled down after receiving the 2021-2022 beneficiaries data updating done some three weeks ago to re-look into all the process.
It advised District Commissioners that the updating data of the scaling down AIP beneficiaries for 2021-2022 farming season should be done up to the village level considering but not limited that they should be Malawians and vulnerable smallholder farmers who have land to cultivate in the 2021-2022 farming season.
“…It is the wish of the Ministry that the beneficiaries data is submitted to Ministry of Agriculture headquarters through Affordable Input Programme [AIP] Coordinating Unit by 12th August, 2021…,’’ reads the Ministry of Agriculture statement.
But, a Malawi Congress Party [MCP] diehard of Mvera in Dowa Mr. Rodgers Kamphangala, has expressed fears that many farmers in the country will not receive the news of scaling down with a good eye but accusing Government of President Dr. Chakwera of taking them for a ride to vote for it into Government at the expense of fooling them.
Kamphangala said farmers themselves have learnt of so many stories happening in government ranging from corruption, bribery and looting of public resources by senior government officials in the watch of President Dr. Chakwera and these have gone without probe for being relatives and relatives, family members and party financiers and this time they will not understand of the financial constraints by Government.
He said farmers will again not understand why Government has reached a decision of scaling down AIP beneficiaries after the National budget was passed with a question asking it, why Government was afraid to explain to parliamentarians that it is in deep financial constraints not to meet the cost of rising prices of fertilizer from suppliers?
The diehard MCP supporter said if what was alleged by Muvi wa Chilungamo’s Bantu Saunders Jumah that Government has MK96 billion unpaid debts to the suppliers of fertilizer for the 2020-2021 farming season, and that it is failing to come to the open to tell Malawians that it is buying fertilizer at a higher cost and sell a bag of fertilizer at a cheaper price, is what it means by scaling down beneficiaries, then Malawi is in deep trouble for food insecurity.
…….’’ I urge President Dr. Chakwera to address the nation to clarify the matter by himself being a farmer and a servant leader and the impact of scaling down beneficiaries in relation to food security in the country,’’…..said Kamphangala.
He warn the Tonse Government that the announcement of scaling down beneficiaries, is speaking for itself that Government has dug for a grave to fall down saying Malawians have lost trust with it through unrealistic promises taking farmers as ladders to advance the self-interest of some individuals in the Tonse Government at the expense of the poor in Malawi.
Kamphangala has advised the Tonse Alliance Government to announce other measures it will take as a substitute for those beneficiaries that will not be in the 2021-2022 AIP farming season for farmers to trust their elected government hence a great need for President Dr. Chakwera to address the nation on AIP by himself and not through his Press secretaries in their Monday briefings.
By Vincent Gunde