By Mphatso Nkuonera, MANA
Paramount Chiefs have said the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) would be a great success if past fraudulent practices were curbed that were experienced in the previous Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP).
Speaking in separate telephone interviews, Chiefs tipped government to use various areas of flops the FISP registered if AIP is to succeed.
Yao Paramount Chief Kawinga lauded government for scaling up the numbers of beneficiaries, saying it would reduce frictions between the chiefs and the locals.
“It was so sad that most often the beneficiaries were not being reached with the products because of corruption and insufficiencies of the products’ selling points which propelled corruption.
“This resulted in the locals eroding trust on their chiefs and those officials involved in running and administering of the programme,” he claimed.
Paramount Chief Kyungu of the Nkhonde in Karonga and Chitipa said the AIP is a milestone in the fight against hunger in the country and is distantly incomparable with the previous similar programmes.
“I therefore encourage all my subjects to use this big opportunity, that cannot be let go.
“I warn against the habit of some beneficiaries of selling the products as this is tantamount to killing themselves, and if anyone under my jurisdiction is caught doing this will face the long arm of law,” he said.
Kyungu said any counter-productive malpractices like corruption, bribery and deliberate tactics to sabotage this programme must be dealt with an iron fist and that no one should take business as usual.
Inkosi Ya Makhosi Mmbelwa of the Jere Ngoni, asked the citizenry to support the programme by making sure that the resources are put to proper use and turn the agriculture sector around.
“It has always been our cry as chiefs that ADMARC opens in time before vendors take over the market so that the harvests should help the farmers improve on their livelihoods from the sales.
“Already I should applaud government that hard to reach areas have been provided with the products so that when the rainy season is on there should be no disruption due to poor road network,” he said.
The Paramount Chiefs echoed that there was need for tight security when selling starts to avoid farmers being duped through either overpricing or supply of fake seeds to farmers.
On Thursday, Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe assured the nation that government has put everything in place to protect the farmers.
“We are working with all security agents in the country and they are ready to professionally discharge their work on any would-be saboteurs of AIP programme.
“We want the products to reach to all the intended 4.2 million households to benefit about 16 million individuals and eventually put hunger on shelves. We are committed and serious on every step,” he said.