President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has launched the 2022/2023 Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) with a call for beneficiaries to utilize the farm inputs wisely to achieve food security at household level.
The launch took place at Maonde Primary School Ground in the area of Senior Chief Kachere Dedza District.
In his speech, Chakwera said despite the Russian-Ukraine war affecting prices and availability of fertilizer across the globe, his government made efforts to ensure that small holder farmers in the country access cheap fertilizer.
He further said that many people did not want the program to take sharp because government eliminated the use of middlemen to buy fertilizer and went on to purchase straight from manufacturers to avoid complications.
He then said he was optimistic that the Affordable Inputs Program, together with other poverty alleviating programmes like social cash transfer and public works, has the ability to end hunger and reduce poverty in the country.
“Let me also warn about the selling of AIP fertilizer to people from neighboring countries as this time around we are working with Police and Malawi Defence Force to tighten security,” he said.
On the current hunger situation in the country, the state president said government has already sourced funds to purchase relief maize and that in other districts distribution has already commenced through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA).
The state president also appealed to the beneficiaries not to be enticed to sell their fertilizer to traders, saying they have the responsibility to ensure that they use the inputs in their fields so that they meaningfully benefit from the initiative.
On his part, Chairperson for the AIP committee, Richard Chimwendo Banda said the Russia-Ukraine war and the Covid 19 pandemic has made prices of the commodity to skyrocket since most of the fertilizer we use in the country comes from Russia.
He then disclosed that government is putting at least K45,000 per bag of fertilizer and K5,000 on seeds just to ensure that local farmers afford farm inputs.
Speaking earlier, Senior Chief Kachere commended government for continuing with AIP, arguing it has proven to promote food security among poor farming households who could not afford to purchase farm inputs.
In the 2022/2023 AIP, about 52,000 metric tons of fertilizer will be distributed to over 2.5 million farming households. 31,000 goats will also be distributed in Balaka and Rumphi from the K149 billion kwacha invested.
Reported by Blackson Mkupatira