Ministry of Agriculture says it will use the existing farm families’ data base in implementing the Affordable Input Program which will see about 4.2 million farming families benefiting from the K4,900.00 per 50 Kg bag fertilizer.
This was disclosed recently by the Agriculture Minister, Lobin Lowe when alongside his deputy, Agnes Mkusa Nkhoma, visited Karonga Agriculture Development Division to appreciate initiatives being under taken by his ministry to improve food security and farmers welfare in Karonga.
“It is unfortunate that even in some cases the farm families are requested to pay a certain amount of money for them to get registered, this is not on as the program is going to use the already existing farm families’ data base,” said Lowe.
He advised those involved in the malpractice such as village heads and area development committees to stop immediately saying all preparations for the implementation of the program is being done by agriculture extension workers who are screening the data base by identifying those who have passed on and new farm families which have just been created.
He said if a farm family uses the two bags of fertilizer and apply good farming practices and use good seed it is expected that each family will harvest 32 bags of maize weighing 50 kg each from an acre.
“This means that we are going to have a lot of maize and we going to capacitate Agriculture Development Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to start buying maize from farmers without middle men in time so that they are not duped by vendors as has been the case in previous years,” said Lowe.
He said farmers have for a long time been used as holes as they could not improve their livelihoods and economic status because the previous governments incapacitated Admarc, creating an advantage for vendors to dup farmers.
Earlier, chairperson for Karonga District Council, Steve Simsokwe appealed to the ministry to consider providing good accommodation and transport means to agriculture works in the district.
The minister however pledged to create incentives for agricultural extension workers by among other things providing them with protection gears besides motorcycles on loan basis.
During the visit, the minister among others, toured Timoti Irrigation Scheme, Wowve Rice irrigation Scheme and Ighembe Women’s Rice Producers and Marketing Cooperative.