The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development disclosed this in a statement. The Ministry said the targeted 1,000,000 farming households are higher by 100,000 beneficiaries when compared to 900,000 farming households that benefited during 2017-18 farming season.
According to the statement all districts have received extra coupons with Lilongwe and Thyolo being allocated additional 5,900 beneficiaries in the program.
In an interview with MBC, FISP Coordinator, Osborn Tsoka, said farmers started getting coupons on 11th Oct, 2018 when the program was launched in Balaka. The contracts for fertilizer and seed suppliers were issued in advance and these input retailers had already pre-deposited in retail market outlets hence once the farmers got the coupons, immediately the input acquisition started.
“This year's program has been well planned. If you look back to the previous growing season, agriculture production was affected by both dry spells and fall army worms particularly in the southern region districts and some parts of the Central Region. This in turn rendered a good percentage of farmers food insecure. This is a reason why Government decided to increase the number of beneficiaries,” said Tsoka.
He further said the Ministry has mobilised extension workers to assist farmers in the field to enhance productivity.
He said, “There shall be improved productivity in the households who will effectively utilise the inputs. The Agriculture Extension Development Officers (AEDOs) will be assisting farmers in terms of mounting demonstrations with an aim of teaching them how effective input use can result in increasing productivity. In this year's program the coupons and their associated inputs have been distributed on time before the onset of planting rains.”
Tsoka further warned farmers to desist from selling the coupons and should report immediately to the nearest police station any suspicions of theft, fraud, corruption or any malpractices observed in the implementation of the programme by calling the toll free number 60606.