Zomba chiefs demand Govt’s explanation on AIP beneficiary selection

Chiefs at a press briefing in Zomba

Group village heads and other village heads at Zomba Ntonya under Senior Chief Chikowi in Zomba have given government seven days to explain the selection criteria in this year’s Affordable Inputs programme (AIP) after observing that a lot of villagers are not on the list of beneficiaries for the programme.

The traditional leaders expressed their dissatisfaction on this year’s AIP during a press briefing which they held at St. Lawrence Kwipululu at Senior Chief Chikowi’s area.

The group village heads and village heads have said they will stage demonstrations if government fails to explain clearly on the matter.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional leaders, group village head Chilope said they were disappointed because most people in Chikowi area did not receive coupons for the AIP yet they are facing challenges due to effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy.

“I can foresee people dying of hunger,” Group Village head Chilope said while wondering the selection criteria in this year’s AIP after observing that group village heads that are closer to Zomba city have benefited a lot as compared to those far from the city.

Group Village head Chilope said people from 11 group village heads did not receive the coupons for this growing season AIP and has since asked government to withhold the programme in Senior Chief Chikowi to sort out the concerns.

“We demand that government should explain this anomaly within seven days or else we will stage demonstrations at the DC office,” said Group Village head Chilope.

One of the people that did not receive AIP coupon, Melesiya Singano from Kwipululu Village, said she is disappointed with this year’s AIP and she does not expect harvest enough food.

On his part, Group Village head Kapachika faulted agriculture extension workers under Thondwe Extension Planning Area (EPA) and ward councilor for the area for failing to do their job of beneficiary identification.

Group Village Kapachika therefore called for the removal of the agricultural extension workers from the area.

Responding to the complaints, Zomba District Council Director of Agricultural Services, Linda Mphande, said her office has no power to intervene on the issue as selection of AIP beneficiaries is done centrally by the Ministry of Agriculture in Lilongwe.

People from group village heads Lambulira, Chikumbu, Katungwe, Nachuma, Chilope in Zomba Ntonya are among those (in 11 group village heads) that did not receive the coupons for the 2023/2024 agricultural season.