Vice President Saulos Chilima says the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) is at the top of President Lazarus Chakwera’s agenda.
Chilima on Monday met Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe and he told the minister about the importance of the programme.
“I also reminded the minister that Malawians are eagerly waiting the implementation of the Affordable Input Programme where smallholder farmers will be buying a 50 kg fertilizer bag at K4, 495. This initiative is at the top of the agenda of His Excellency, the President,” Chilima wrote on his Facebook page.
Under the AIP which has replaced the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme (FISP), over 4.2 million smallholder farmers will buy fertilizer and seeds at a cheap price.
Chilima said the Ministry of Agriculture has restructured the input subsidy and seed services which has seen a reduction of taxpayers’ money used for the AIP from K64 billion to K40 billion.
During the meeting, Lowe outlined three reform areas that his ministry has successfully implemented to date.
The Vice President said he fully supported the suggested reforms towards mechanization of agriculture through plant and equipment hire or establishment of farm mechanization hiring centres.
Chilima, however, noted that the ministry has not managed to establish a Seed Services Unit that would guide the seed industry because the draft Seed Bill is yet to be presented to Cabinet.
On Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), Chilima said the splitting of the corporation into two should not mean more taxpayers’ money going into the created corporations.
“I asked the ministry to ensure that taxpayers will not dig deeper in their pockets to sustain the two separate functions that will come out of the institution once it is split. I emphasised that we must deal with this with the urgency it deserves but at the same time there is no room for any mistake, said Chilima.