By Linda Kwanjana
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale says his Ministry is geared to complete the Agricultural Input Program (AIP) in December.
Addressing a news conference in Lilongwe, Kawale outlined the reasons why his Ministry has not managed to deliver the program within 40 days as directed by the President of the Republic Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera.
“Even though the exercise began well and was on course for completion within the set schedule, we have experienced two major disruptions that have derailed the process in the past two weeks, and we have since briefed His Excellency about both disruptions to get further guidance from him. The first major disruption was the inability of the central bank to make payments to suppliers due to the shortage of forex. The second disruption was the devaluation of the kwacha, which has had a knock-on effect on pricing and the inflation of the budget we had initially earmarked for the exercise, ” he said.
Kawale said the president directed the ministry to fully inform Malawians on the progress of the project hence holding the press conference.
“The president directed us to tell Malawians on how much fertilizer the country has, how the distribution exercise is working, how are we working on addressing rising issues and challenges, how non beneficiaries of AIP are going to be rescued from hunger as well as we should tell Malawians measures on how we are going to work in order to make sure that by Christmas festival everyone should have fertilizer,” Kawale added.
According to the Agricultural Minister Government had plans of distributing 3 Million bags of fertilizer to 1.5 million beneficiaries but so far it has distributed 1,160,829 bags of fertilizer which is representing 47 percent.
According to the minister, hard to reach areas were prioritized in the process and so far a lot of fertilizer has been disbursed. These areas are Usisya, Nthalile, Misuku, Likoma, Makanjira, Nkhotakota as well as Chikwawa just to mention a few.
Currently 598,591 bags of fertilizers are being distributed 538, 580 bags of fertilizers have already been accessed and that there is only need for letters of credit to be given for the fertilizer to be accessible and ready for distribution.
The minister has also assured the general public on the availability of fertilizer as the Government of Japan is committed to assist with 140,000 bags of fertilizer by December or early January.
“The Ministry is working on the financing and payments for the remaining 24,340MT (486,800 bags) of fertilizers to complete the 150,000MT (3,000,000 bags) target,” he said.