Thyolo Farmers Struggle to Access AIP Fertiliser

Hope to harvest bumper yields this year is slowly diminishing for scores of smallholder farmers in four traditional authorities in Thyolo as some claim to have been going to Goliati selling point for three weeks now without redeeming fertiliser under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).

The farmers, Bertha Kaphiri, 68-year-old Elizabeti Chilumpha, Magret Kachingwe and Lameck Kopolande from Nang'ombe area, Senior Chief Chimaliro are worried that hunger will bite since their maize crop is over-grown.

They are accusing their chiefs of conniving with vendors to be buying the commodity at their expense.

"When our village has been called to buy the fertiliser, we don't buy. We see some people who are not from our village buying as part of us. Some people come to tell us to top-up something to buy. We have been going to Goliati selling point for three weeks now and our maize has over-grown," they worried.

Similarly, Masambanjati ward councilor Rhustin Banda, says authorities have not opened a selling point at Makwasa trade centre, owing to insecurity matters, "meaning all the AIP beneficiaries from three Traditional Authorities Khwethemule, Mbawera and Changata are being forced to buy at the boma which is very far."

Meanwhile, Thyolo district chief agriculture officer, Mirriam Ndlovu, has acknowledged the concerns including unavailability of NPK fertiliser, indicating that they are selling inputs per village through clubs.

"We are using committees and giving equal allocations to the villages to ensure that everyone is reached. And the names are taken from the village register so that no vendor is allowed", Ndlovu said.

Ndlovu added: "for now, beneficiaries from Masambanjati Extension Planning Area (EPA) need to come to boma at Nambala 1 until mobile vending is arranged".

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