Ministry of Agriculture aware of lower Shire dry spells
By Vincent Gunde
The Ministry of Agriculture says it is aware that the situation is not good in the Shire valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje and other districts in the Southern Region due to the dry spells.
The Ministry says it is in the process of assessing the impact on various crops and government will thereafter strategize on how these farmers can be supported.
It says it is clear from the onlook of the crop that this season could be better considering that more farmers have accessed and utilized the fertilizers and seeds, saying Malawi will have surplus cereal production on assuming that the general rainfall pattern currently received continuous.
In his Ministerial statement of the implementation of Affordable Inputs Programme [AIP] delivered to the National Assembly, Minister of Agriculture Hon. Lobin Lowe MP, said AIP has started to show that it is a program that is vital to restore food security at household level.
Lowe said AIP is an instrument that will bring household peace and freedom of choosing when to eat, a realization of the Kudya Katatu promise by the Tonse Alliance Government, commending President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera for putting food security at his heart through the introduction of this massive program.
He said this is a remarkable achievement considering the short period within which the program has been delivered, a demonstration of a true ‘’Tonse spirit’’ saying it is the first time in the history of Malawi for Government to have provided such a huge amount of fertilizer and seed to smallholder farming households.
The Minister said input redemption closed on 20th February, 2021 by this time, 75 percent fertilizer suppliers and 2 public companies managed to sell their inputs to family households across the country and 11 seed companies managed to sell seed to the beneficiaries.
He said AIP targeted 4,279,100 farming households but when the list of farmers was validated by National Registration Bureau [NRB], the number of farming households reduced to 3,788,105,saying the drop was due to a number of factors including deaths, duplications and fake households, just to mention a few.
“The Ministry will continue to work with NRB and all stakeholders to clean and update the farm family list to ensure that we have a true and credible record to guide our programming in the future programs,” said Lowe.
He said the Ministry encountered some challenges in the course of implementation of the program such as network challenges, absence of suppliers in rural markets, underperformance of ADMARC, some beneficiaries selling their inputs, and some suppliers were alleged to be stealing from farmers, among others.