Ministry clarifies reduction in AIP beneficiaries

Legislators in the National Assembly

Ministry of Agriculture has come out to explain the reduction in the number of beneficiaries in the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) from 4.2 to 3.7 million.

Speaking in Parliament, responsible Minister Lobin Lowe attributed the drop to several factors such as deaths, duplications and fake households.

He indicated that in monetary terms, the budget requirement for the programme also reduced from K160.2 to K140.2 billion.

On Tuesday, parliamentarians continued debate on the Programme being run under the Ministry of Agriculture.

The issue caught the interest of most legislators who argued the 4.3 million assumed a household of about 4 people because the coverage was supposed to be the 17 million people in Malawi.

They noted the reduction also affects the reach out considering 4.3 million in an even distribution to the country’s 28 districts would translate to 152000 and 125000 households being reached.

Lowe: Handled legislator's queries on the Programme 

Some noted that with the 4.3 million reduction to about 3.8 million, this translates to three districts being left out right from the planning point of the logistical arrangement.

Considering the logistical gaps in terms of the number of people who were supposed to be reached through households, members queried how the Ministry is going to cover those left out based on the arrangement.

In response, Lowe assured that together with the National Registration Bureau (NRB), it will continue to clean and update the farm family list in order to have a true and credible record to guide future programming.

He cited the issue of duplicates, death of some beneficiaries and suspected a syndicate behind the move.

Fertilizer for the Affordable Input Programme

“One EPA 2000 names same names in other EPA it was like I don’t know but we couldn’t do otherwise because according to National Registration Bureau, duplications are cleaned automatically and we had a lot of them.

“You may also wish to know that there were some ghosts in this case ghost beneficiaries; you could get a list of names with fake ID’s; IDS which cannot be traced in National Registration Bureau system, so we had a team to go and verify if at all those names could match with another ID in the constituency.

“Unfortunately, those names were for the ghosts. Automatically the system could remove them so now we are on the same footing.”

Following the closure of inputs redemption on 20th February, 75 private fertilizer suppliers and two public companies managed to sell their inputs to farming households across the country in the Extension Planning Areas (EPA)’s they were registered to supply.