Affordable Input Programme (AIP), the Lazarus Chakwera administration’s flagship programme, will have one million less beneficiaries this year with government citing financial constraints and rising fertilizer prices as factors for the reduction in number of beneficiares.
The Ministry of Agriculture has reduced the beneficiaries of this season’s AIP to about 2.7 million from last season’s 3.8 million farmers.
Secretary for Irrigation Sandram Maweru has told District Commissioners (DCs) that financial constraints and rising of prices of fertilizer have forced the government to review the number of beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries who will be targeted are vulnerable smallholder farmers, those not benefiting from any other Agriculture Supporting Programmes, people with disabilities and chronically ill.
“As you are aware that the 2021-2022 beneficiaries, data updating was done some weeks ago, the Ministry of Agriculture is writing you to let you know that the data submitted was looked through all processes.
“However due to financial constraints and rising of prices of fertilizer, after looking into these two compounded challenges, the ministry, has decided to have AIP scaling down of the beneficiaries to be done up to village level,” Maweru said in a letter to the DCs.
Under the AIP, each beneficiary purchases two 50 kg bags of fertilizer at a price of K4,495.00 per bag. Currently, a bag of fertilizers costs over K20, 000.
Last year, K160.2 billion was allocated for the programme and in the 2021/22 budget, the programme was allocated K142 billion.
In his State of the Nation Address in May, President Lazarus Chakwera said his government ignored critics who had warned that the AIP was doomed to fail.
Chakwera lauded the programme for leading to an increase in maize production from 3.8 million metric tonnes in 2019/2020 season to over 4.5 million metric tonnes in 2020/2021 season.
The president then said that in 2021, there would be improvements in the implementation of the AIP programme which he hoped would lead to an increase in crop output.