President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has assured Malawians that his government will deliver in time subsidized farm inputs under the Agricultural Input Programme (AIP).
Chakwera made the assurance on Sunday when he joined a multitude of Christians under the Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in celebrating annual thanksgiving Sunday.
The event took place at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe. President Chakwera has singled out AIP as one of the pillars and vehicle to transform the economy.
He told Malawians that he has instructed the line ministry to deliver the inputs in time to avoid challenges, which the Ministry of Agirculture faced last year.
In the first year of administration, the incumbent administration supported 3.7 million smallholder farming households with 370, 000 metric tonnes of fertilizer and 12, 698 metric tonnes of seeds, resulting in a 21 percent increase in maize production and a national surplus of over one million metric tonnes in the 2020-2021 farming season.
Chakwera said despite adverse weather conditions such as the late and violent start of the rains during the 2021-2022 planting season, his administration still managed to support 3.25 million smallholder farming households with 350, 000 metric tonnes of fertilizer and 13, 318 metric tonnes of seeds, resulting in the production of 3.716 million metric tonnes of maize and a national surplus of 387,197 metric tonnes.
Commenting on 2022-2023 planting season, Chakwera acknowledged that AIP faced administrative challenges that resulted in the September deadline set for its rollout to be missed.
“But when this happened, I took decisive and corrective steps by appointing a new Minister of Agriculture and making personnel changes at the Ministry. Since then, the Ministry has been working around the clock to catch up.
Although some farmers have struggled to access the commodity, we have made a lot of progress in catching up. As of three days ago, the programme has achieved a redemption rate of 73.74%, just 1.5% shy of what it was at this point last year,” he said.
Government has since registered tremendous achievements and has met most targets.
Currently Government has already awarded contracts to thirteen (13) fertilizer suppliers who are expected to supply 149, 164 metric tons of NPK and Urea fertilizer through Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) regional warehouses in Chilimba in Blantyre, Kanengo in Lilongwe and Luwinga in Mzuzu.
According to the Principal Secretary Dixie Kampani, the supply of fertilizers to these warehouses will commenced on July 2, 2023.
Kampani says the procurement of transportation services is at advanced stage; including evaluation of bidders who have expressed interest to be engaged in the programme by submitting their bidding documents and award of contracts to successful transporters was expected to end by July 31, 2023.
The PS said procurement of seeds and goats for the programme has already been advertised in the newspapers.
“It is expected that smallholder farmers will access farm inputs before the onset of first planting rains. The Ministry commits to frequently give updates on the progress made in the implementation of the programme. The smallholder farmers are requested to prepare their gardens in preparation for 2023/2024 growing season,” Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale wrote on his Facebook page.