In a bid to address their concerns over the exclusion of 11 group villages under Mtonya Constituency, Tradition Authority Chikowi, from the Affordable Input Program (AIP), the Chikowi Area Development Committee has given the Zomba District Council a seven-day ultimatum to revise the program’s processes, failure to do so, they have warned, will result in widespread demonstrations.
The call for action was made on Friday during interviews with group village headman Kapachika from Senior Chief Lambulira’s area.
Kapachika highlighted that while he was aware of the government’s decision to reduce the number of AIP beneficiaries, he questioned the selection procedures employed.
He expressed concern that individuals without land for farming had benefited from the program while those with substantial plots had been left out.
“I am very aware that the numbers have reduced, but what worried us is that TA Chikowi is one of the largest traditional authorities in Zomba, with over 50 group villages. During the AIP processes, we were informed that those with less than one acre of land would not benefit.
“However, in our area, there are more people who have not received AIP despite having more than one acre of land. Eleven group village headmen have not had a single person benefit from the program. We are giving them seven days to address our concerns; otherwise, we will take our grievances to their offices,” he said.
Kapachika further emphasized that the rural population was already facing food scarcity, and their hopes were pinned on the AIP.
The reduction in the number of beneficiaries and the exclusion of some rural areas from the program would have severe negative consequences on their lives, potentially leading to an increase in immoral behaviors.
Melesia Singano, a resident of Kuipululu village, shared her personal struggles, stating that she had gone without food for three days. Singano had been hopeful that receiving an AIP coupon next year would provide some relief.
However, with no job or means to earn income, she expressed her concerns about affording fertilizer.
Linda Mphande, the Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Zomba District Council, explained that the selection process was not within their jurisdiction. The names of beneficiaries were provided by the Ministry, and the District Council had no authority to intervene. Mphande acknowledged that there were areas with zero beneficiaries, but their hands were tied.
According to official data, Zomba District has a total of 50,552 AIP beneficiaries, with TA Chikowi representing 5,748 individuals. The remaining beneficiaries are distributed across other traditional authorities within the district.