Just a day after the Centre for Democracy and Development Initiatives (CDEDI) wrote a demand letter to the Minister of Agriculture on concerns on the needless scaling down the exercise of the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) beneficiaries for the 2021/22 growing season, the Hon. Minister, Lobin Lowe MP has responded with a call for a roundtable discussion.
In the 2021/22 budget, the Ministry of Agriculture was allocated MK142 billion for the Affordable Input Programme, out of this, MK126 billion is for fertilizer and the balance is for seed and logistics.
In a letter to CDEDI, Hon. Lowe said his Ministry worked out the fertilizer quantities that the allocated resources could secure and it was noted that this could be enough for 2,700,000 beneficiaries.
Hon. Lowe said the Ministry also noted that some of the listed beneficiaries were not supposed to benefit saying the Ministry took an exercise and discovered from the list some civil servants and these have since been taken out of the list.
He said the Ministry came up with the figure 2, 700,000 beneficiaries as per the resources allocated and that was just preliminary guidance that was given as the Ministry was exploring avenues to ensure that all beneficiaries are not missing, saying the Ministry is currently exploring the possibility that fertilizer should be sourced from manufacturers.
Hon. Lowe said he is also engaging the Minister of Finance to look at how the budget shortfall could be covered to achieve the targeted number of beneficiaries saying the Ministry worked out a number of scenarios that will achieve the 3,700,000 beneficiaries as planned.
“My office is open for any discussion to clarify on the measures the Ministry is undertaking to clear all about the Affordable Input Programme, “reads part of Lowe’s letter to CDEDI.
In the letter to Hon. Lowe MP dated 25th August 2021, CDEDI asked Lowe to make a detailed statement to justify his decision to scale down the number of AIP beneficiaries and indicate how much the exercise has cost Malawians or step down to save from shame and further embarrassment following his lack of knowledge on government protocols and procedures, given President Dr Chakwera’s reversal of his action as the responsible Minister of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, CDEDI said it has seized this opportunity to iron out some grey areas it has noted in Lowe’s response during the meeting.