By IOMMIE CHIWALO
The country’s visible human rights organization, Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has penned Parliamentary Chairperson for agriculture Committee to summon Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe in a quest to seek light on maize scarcity and Affordable Input Programme (AIP) dilemma.
In a letter made available to this publication, signed by CDEDI Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, the organisation calls for immediate parliamentary action considering that Malawi is an agro-based economy.
Namiwa says this has to be treated with urgency it deserves because almost all the four million farming families in Malawi entirely depend on chemical fertilizer as a major factor of production both for consumption and commercial purposes.
“We are now in the month of September and the 2022/23 growing season is just setting in. Shortly, some parts of the country will start receiving rains, and the latest weather forecast has predicted that most parts of the country will, this year, receive rains early, hence the call for parliamentary intervention,” Namiwa said.
Currently there is a cloud of uncertainty on the future of the AIP, compelling CDEDI on behalf of the vulnerable and marginalized farmers to ask government to explain before the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture on whether it will proceed with the AIP or not.
“If yes, what will be the prices for the farm inputs and what is the number of the targeted beneficiaries,” queries Namiwa in the letter considering that majority farmers cannot afford a bag of fertilizer, whose current market price is now hovering at around MK60,000.
Through the process, Namiwa wants to see the government coming out clearly on the availability of fertilizer.
He has asked tor timely intervention on the maize and fertilizer situation in Malawi saying it will certainly save millions of Malawians from the imminent man-made famine by the current government.
“Therefore, our expectation is that your committee Hon. Chairperson, will treat this issue as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Namiwa has since cautioned Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture against its stand of sitting back and watching President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and his cronies killing the Agriculture Development and Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC) which has thus far proven to be a tried and tested tool in making both maize and fertilizer accessible to Malawians especially those in remote areas.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Chairperson Suleman has also expressed fears on how government is handling the AIP issue but is yet to respond on CDEDI letter.