Parliamentarians are concerned that the Affordable Inputs Subsidy Program (AIP) has shifted the attention away from other crops like tobacco and toward maize alone.
On Thursday, during a Cluster Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation, Natural Resources, and Climate Change in Parliament in Lilongwe, this was said.
Sameer Suleman, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Cluster Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation, told journalists that it is critical for the country to define some goals and a timeline for the AIP to be phased out.
Suleman added this can be beneficial to a lot of Malawians who are into different farming practices of different crops because the case on the ground is that a lot of money from the agriculture budget is going towards AIP.
“We have extension sites and so much more but our main focus has moved from other crops because of AIP and now the whole concentration has gone to Maize. Is that good for our country? the answer is no,” he explained.
He went on to say that the agriculture developmental programmes in the agriculture sector are donor funded, 87 percent of which shows that the country is doing very little in the development.
On her part, NASFAM Head of Policy and Communication Beatrice Makwenda said
much is needed towards the improvement of agriculture diversification because it includes both crops and animals considering that looking at the assessment of level of investment it shows that it’s unbalanced limiting other areas.
Makwenda went on to say that for the diversification to happen there is a need to advise farmers towards other value chains and at the same time there is a need for marketing development because the production rate will not necessarily lead to growth but it will allow farmers to have food and income needed for the country’s economy.
NASFAM together with Action Aid is implementing accountability project focusing on both agriculture and health sector by looking at what is needed in terms of the public and involvement of citizen and in the budget allocation.