The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and civil society organizations (CSOs) have called for the redesigning of the Affordable Input Programme (AIP), observing that the programme currently overshadows other activities under the Ministry of Agriculture.
Ulemu Chilapondwa, Co-chairperson of the committee and CSO leaders made the remarks on Monday evening in Lilongwe during an interface meeting between members of the committee and CSOs in the agriculture sector.
Acknowledging that the interface meeting could have been held earlier to feed into the legislators’ cluster committee reports, Chilapondwa said suggestions and ideas made during the meeting can make a difference in the Ministry of Agriculture.
“There was an issue of the increasing amount of money allocated to different departments of the ministry of agriculture so that at the end of the day should make the ministry of agriculture be seen to be doing its core functions apart from ventilating on AIP. This is one of the issues that could have been added to our report,” said Chilapondwa.
Chilapondwa however said some of the recommendations raised during the interface were already included in the committee’s cluster report.
“Some of the issues on climate change smart climate agriculture have been included in our report. As a global world, we are going through a difficult period as far as climate change issues are concerned,” added Chilapondwa.
Speaking earlier, ActionAid Executive Director Pamela Kuwali said the CSOs organized the meeting with the legislators on behalf of Malawians to review the 2023/24 national budget allocated to the agriculture sector.
Kuwali appealed to the government to redesign the AIP which she said is currently promoting monocropping.
“The AIP is promoting monocropping in the country. With the effects of climate change hitting hard on agriculture, there is a need for the government to use the agriculture budget to promote crop diversification and agriculture diversification at a time the agriculture industry for households to be food secure,” she said.
In his words, a representative of the CSOs, a consultant from Mzuzu University Christopher Mbukwa, said the meeting was aimed at following up if recommendations that they made earlier during post-budget consultations were taken on board.
Mbukwa said the CSOs recommended an intra-budgetary allocation towards the agriculture sector, arguing that AIP enjoys the lion’s share of the budget allocations.
“There are some inherent imbalances in the allocation of the agricultural sector budget. Perhaps, AIP is allocated a lot of funds, creating a funding gap for the other areas. For example, for not knowing where the funds can come from to cater for some of the programs that have been left out in the budget allocation,” said Mbukwa.
Mbukwa also added that the time has come for the government to invest in manure and compost improving Promote alternatives to fertilizer, intercropping, and improved, tailored varieties so as to boost the country’s productivity.
The meeting was jointly organized by ActionAid, Oxfam, the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam), and the Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet).