President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has defied donor demands by continuing with Affordable Input Program.
At least 1.5 Malawians have started accessing government’s heavily subsidised farm inputs after President Chakwera officially launched this year’s AIP on Friday.
Donors have been demanding that the government phases out the program, saying it was a drain on public resources.
President Dr Chakwera said his administration would continue with the AIP, saying it benefits ordinary poor people who could not afford a bag of fertilizer at the commercial market.
A bag of fertilizer costs about K90,000 the country must get into serious agricultural productivity to turn around the economy.
Chakwera said the country must exploit the opportunities in the agriculture sector to produce more crops for both consumption and export.
He said Malawi must start generating its own funds through agricultural commercialisation to become self-reliant and be able to finance its development needs without relying on borrowing.
“The achievement of food security for every household in Malawi is one of this government’s priorities. Dependency cannot drive the country forward. Everyone in their homes, villages and towns must be self-reliant and that is what will earn us some respect.
“But if we are to be self-reliant, we have to adopt modern methods of agriculture and mechanise our farming.”
He said Malawi cannot develop if it relies on debts hence the need for farmers to get into cooperatives as the country establishes mega farms.
“If we implement all these plans, Malawi will not be the same,” said Chakwera.
The President also directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that this year’s AIP activities are concluded within 40 days, warning he will not allow the process to be abused.
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said this year’s programme is earmarked to benefit 1.5 million people where 1.49 million farming households will benefit from fertiliser and seeds while the remainder will redeem goats.
Kawale said: “Government has put in place other programmes for those that will not be on AIP. We have beneficiaries under Social Cash Transfer and Public Works programmes and others under Agricultural Commercialisation (Agcom).
“If we add all the numbers, we will see that there are over 1 million people to benefit through these other programmes.”
He said 73 percent of the fertiliser needed under the AIP programme is already in the country, stressing that distribution has already started with hard to reach areas.
“This year, no one will sleep in fertiliser depots. As we are speaking, 55 transport contractors are already on the ground. Network glitches have been fixed,” he said.