AIP hailed despite challenges
By Vincent Khonje and Dyson Kamwana
Despite the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) being rocked with some hiccups, farmers in Kasungu have said the programme was far much better than the previous Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (FISP).
Meanwhile a random check to the selling points in the district has shown that most of the problems that were there have been resolved.
A farmer from Ndaki Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Wimbe, Richard Chisasule told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview Tuesday that despite initially faced with network challenges the number of those that have benefited much higher than the similar programmes implemented before.
“The programme reached out to so many poor farmers who have now purchased the affordable inputs and it has also ensured that those who are supposed to benefit to do so.
“The timely supply of fertilizers and seeds has helped us to prepare well and as the rains are finally here we are ready,” he said.
Another farmer, Lameck Wilima from Kapheni Village in TA Kapelura hailed the use of national identity cards was a better system than the coupons that were being used in previous programmes.
“Sharing of coupons among villagers created several problems. This programme has ensured that everyone whose name appears in the system is the one regarded as the one to benefit,” he said.
Wilima added that the AIP programme may be experiencing some problems now because it was new.
“People should understand that all these challenges are well recorded and hopefully next year all these will be sorted out,” he said.
Ministry of Agriculture Public Relations Officer Gracian Lungu told Mana on Monday that a total of 3, 209 512 bags of fertilizer and that as of December 4, 2020, 1,604 756 household families had bought their two bags of fertilizer representing 43 percent.
He said a total of 1 697 696 household families had bought their packs of seeds representing 43%.
Meanwhile the issue of network in most selling points seem to have been resolved.
“The network which has been bringing more problems has started behaving well and only in few selected areas, suppliers are still facing connectivity challenges.
“In most selling points, not many people are still on long queues to access these inputs,” Lungu said.
The sudden change is attributed to rolling out of sales by some suppliers who were yet to start selling.
According to the Ministry by end of this week, the number of those who have accessed their inputs under AIP is expected to double the targeted number of FISP which was targeting only 900 000.
Recently, Ministry of Agriculture intensified spot checks to appreciate challenges that farmers as well as suppliers are facing and find a way to deal with them.
In the AIP, which initially planned to reach out to 4,279,100 farming households, each targeted household is allowed to buy 50 kilograms (Kg) of NPK and 50 kg of Urea fertilizers at K4,495 a bag.
They are allowed to buy 7 Kilogrammes packs of maize, rice, sorghum seeds at K2,000.