Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale says Government, which has received over 70,000 metric tonnes of donated fertilizer, is contributing K50,000 per 50 kilogram bag of fertilizer under the Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) hence farmers are being required to pay K15,000 per bag .
Speaking in the August House today, Kawale explained why government is requiring 2.5 million farmer to pay K15,000 for fertilizer despite receiving over 70,000 metric tonnes of donated fertilizer.
Kawale has also justified the move to include the donated fertilizer in the program saying the donation was made towards the AIP. He further said the donors are aware of how the AIP is handled and that farmers are supposed to contribute something towards the farm inputs.
“During the 2022/2023 budget, we approved K109bn for AIP. This was to cover seeds, goats, logistics and fertilizer, which took K97. 5bn of the budget. We budgeted for 2.5m people to benefit from AIP. Immediately after passing the budget, fertilizer prices increased. This meant a number of people would have to be dropped from the program. Then a few months later, our currency was devalued by 25%, meaning even more people had to be dropped from the program. The President, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, reached out to development partners to assist us with fertilizer so that beneficiaries shouldn’t be dropped.
“Let me make it clear here that the donated fertilizer will not be given out for free as government is expected to foot blending and transportation costs to selling points. Some of the donated fertilizer is not suitable for Malawian soil therefore some products have to be procured for its blending. SFFRFM is procuring the remaining NPK and Urea so that all 2.5 million beneficiaries targeted this year are supported with fertilizers. Let me also inform the House that the retailing of this fertilizer to beneficiaries will be done by SFFRFM.” said Kawale.
Under the program, each beneficiary is earmarked to access a 50 kg bag of NPK; a 50 kg bag of Urea; either 5 kg of maize seed or 5 kg of sorghum or 5 kg of rice seed, depending on the farmers preference. The Ministry will also provide a chance of some livestock beneficiaries to access two (2) female goats in Balaka and Rumphi districts.
“For those that were meant to directly benefit from the program but have been left out are benefitting from other social programs that government is implementing so they should not worry. Let me also inform the House that Government has paid MK5,000 to each seed pack a beneficiary will be paying the difference between this payment and market price which varies based of the seed variety. For Livestock beneficiaries, Madam Speaker, will be contributing MK15,000 per female goat and government will pay K25,000,” added Kawale.
Kawale has also announced the introduction of mobile vending to sell AIP fertilizer which according to the Minister will ease access to the inputs.
According to Kawale, specific filling stations have been designated in all districts to provide fuel for AIP vehicles, and that government is working hard to deal with all logistical challenges that may hamper smooth implementation of the program.