The Civil Society Network on Agriculture (CisaNet) says Malawi received generous donations of 40,000 tonnes of fertilizer from Egypt and Russia but it remains unclear how best donations will be integrated into the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
CisaNet has asked the government to outline a clear plan for the distribution and allocation of these donated fertilizers to ensure that they reach smallholder farmers in a fair and equitable manner saying these donations provide much-needed relief to farmers facing economic challenges.
The organization has expressed its concern over outstanding refunds to farmers who were asked to pay in advance K30,000 to redeem two bags of fertilizers asking the government to promptly address this to restore public trust and confidence in the program.
In a statement dated 19th September, 2023 signed by its Board Chairperson Herbert Chigona, the CisaNet has urged the government to be transparent and accountable throughout the AIP process lamenting that there is no information available on the current fertilizer stocks in the country for the AIP.
The CisaNet says the government’s recent announcement of its intention to remove one million beneficiaries from the AIP, has raised significant concerns calling for timing and transparency of this process.
The organization says releasing the list of beneficiaries in a timely manner is essential to provide those who have been left out with ample time to make alternative plans observing that the abrupt removal of beneficiaries without clear criteria or explanation can have severe consequencies for vulnerable households.
It has also expressed its concern that over the years, the programme is not accepting new entrants into the system saying this is implying that only those who benefited from last year’s AIP will be the only ones to access farm inputs for the coming growing season.
“We appeal to the Malawi Government to demonstrate seriousness and commitment in the implementation of the AIP, the success of the AIP is pivotal in achieving the country’s self-sufficiency and food security,” reads part of the statement.
The CisaNet has expressed its deep concern over the significant delays in the roll out of the AIP by the Malawi Government saying this delay is a contradiction to the government’s commitment to supporting poor farmers and ensuring food security in the country.
The organization says it is extremely worrisome that with only one-and half months left before the rainy season, the government has not yet determined the price of fertilizer under the AIP claiming that farmers are left in a state of uncertainty, jeopardizing their ability to plan effectively.