By Lusekero Mhango
Minister of Civic Education and National Unity Timothy Mtambo, who is also a member of the Ministerial taskforce on Affordable Input Program (AIP), has expressed satisfaction with the progress of the flagship Tonse Alliance program in Karonga despite the late start.
The Minister made the call on Saturday after touring the selling point of the inputs at Kasoba in the area of Traditional Authority Kyungu where he appreciated the progress and challenges faced by farmers when redeeming their inputs.
In an Interview, Mtambo said was impressed as there was good progress in the selling points as fertilizer was in stock and available for farmers to buy.
He added that despite the program starting late he was encouraged by the percentage of people who had redeemed their inputs which stood at over 70% for NPK fertilizer in Karonga.
“This program started late and we all accept the reasons and why it was the case but the efforts and decisive action that was taken through the President of the Republic has ensured that this important commodity should be given to its people, a commodity that is very crucial to food security,” he said.
However, the Minister bemoaned the long-distance travel to the selling points and has since directed the opening of a new selling point at Karonga Boma to ease mobility challenges faced by farmers wishing to buy their inputs.
On his part, Director of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources for Karonga, Rafael Mkisi, conceded the need to establish mobile markets to ease long hours stuck in queues waiting to purchase the inputs as there was only one selling point of the inputs in each of the six Extension Planning Areas (EPA) in the district.
“As an office, we are tirelessly liaising with the fertilizer revolving fund of Malawi so that they can provide us with staff to support the mobile selling points which will allow us to speed up the process,” explained Mkisi.
Concurring with the minister, One of the beneficiaries Selena Mwambinga, expressed disappointment in having to spend a lot of resources for transport to reach these selling points when households were struggling with the current economic situation.
However, many beneficiaries hailed the government for the availability of the inputs in the district.
According to statistics about 32,000 people will benefit from the affordable input program in Karonga this farming season.