Government embraces technology in AIP
By Patricia Kapulula
Lilongwe, September 16, Mana: Government has put in place quality control measures to monitor quality of seed and fertiliser in the Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) retailing chain so that farmers access inputs of good quality and in right quantities.
Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe made the remarks in Lilongwe on Thursday during a press briefing on AIP implementation.
He said government has this year embraced technology by introducing seed scratch cards in order to help farmers recognise seed approved by government.
Government will use agencies such as Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS) and the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) to monitor implementation of the control measures.
“In addition, this year farmers will be able to check seed quality through the seed scratch card using their phones,” said Lowe.
Farmers are advised to check on the seed packet for a card, scratch it and it will reveal a secret number which can be sent via short message service (SMS) to 3015 on either a TNM or Airtel line.
Once that is done a farmer will receive a message which shows the seed manufacturing company, the type of seed, weight and the date when the seed was certified.
“If a farmer doesnt receive a message confirming the above then that seed is not certified by government hence a farmer should plant it,” said Lowe.
Various stakeholders such as farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), police, program managers, district commissioners and civil society organisations will be expected to monitor and give feedback when something that needs governments attention is observed.
Lowe who was franked by Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako, Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Mtambo, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma and Deputy Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Ulemu Chilapondwa disclosed that government has maintained the number of AIP beneficiaries at 3.7 million households.
“I am pleased to inform you that government has maintained the number of farming households who benefited in the 2020/2021 season who were at 3,788,105. However, it was observed that the list included some civil servants and have been removed from the database,” he said.
Out of the 3,714,105 households, 30,000 farming households in Chikwawa and Nsanje will do livestock production in forms of goats.
Fertiliser under the AIP has been estimated at K27, 000 per 50 kilogram bag but each beneficiary will be contributing K7, 500 with government contributing K19, 500.
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said the K7,500 fertiliser price came after thorough consultations and several stakeholders including farmers said they were okay with the price.
It is expected that the list of successful AIP bidder will be out next week