Government has assured the nation of its readiness to roll out the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) where about 4.2 million smallholder farmers have been targeted for the exercise in the 2020-2021 farming season.
Addressing the media, Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe, disclosed that currently a cleaning-up process of the database and ensuring that correct National Identification numbers are entered against the right farming household heads is in place.
He was upbeat that if the fertilizer is properly used and crops well managed, each household is expected to harvest about 32 bags of 50 kg each of maize which is 80 bags per hectare.
“If these inputs are properly used and the crop is well managed, the household is expected to harvest about 32 bags of 50 kg each of maize (which is 80 bags per hectare)
“At national level, the Ministry expects that 1.7 million hectares will be planted to improved maize seed,” explained Lowe.
He appealed to all farmers with faulty ID’s to rectify the problem with Field Extension workers before commencement of the programme.
“The programme will cover all smallholder farmers in Malawi and that there will be no sampling.
“I wish therefore, to ask all those farmers that do not have National Identity cards to go and register with the National Registration Bureau for them to benefit from this Programme,” appealed the Minister.
Farmers will be buying one 50 kilogramme bag of either Urea or NPK at MK4, 495.00 and a maize seed pack at MK2,000.00 from both public institutions and private companies.
With support from National Registration Bureau (NRB) and E-Government, an electronic system will be used to enable farmers procure fertilizers and maize seed from approved suppliers.
“The farmer will just go to supplier with his/her National ID (NID), and the supplier will scan the identity card using his/her smartphone and the farmer will select the input he or she wants to purchase.
“For easy monitoring of the programme by all players including local leaders and local structures, an Extension Planning area will be allocated to two or three suppliers,” said the Minister.
To ensure its success, the Ministry will step up a campaign on application of manure to the fields by farmers alongside the application of fertilizers acquired in the programme.
In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, each field staff will be given sets of face masks and bottles of sanitizers to be used when serving farmers during sensitization meetings, trainings, input redemption and general extension service delivery.