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Organisations gang up to support vulnerable farmers

Lilongwe, September 21, Mindful that some farmers cannot buy fertilizer even at  K4,495.00 a bag, two agricultural-based organisations, Yara International and Bayer Limited have ganged up to distribute free fertilizer and seed respectively to at least 50, 000 vulnerable farmers in the country.

Yara International will distribute 100, 000 bags of NPK fertilizer while Bayer Limited will distribute quick maturing and drought-resistant hybrid maize seed to the targeted smallholder farmers.

On one hand, the initiative is aimed at supporting government-initiated Affordable Inputs Program (AIP), since some farmers cannot afford to buy a single bag of fertilizer even at a hugely subsidised price of K4, 495.00.

On the other hand, the initiative is part of Yara International’s COVID-19 Response Program initiated to respond to the extra challenge the pandemic has availed to smallholder farmers in Malawi.

Speaking at the launch of the program and the distribution of the farm inputs at SFFRFM premises at Kanengo in Lilongwe on Monday, Vice-President Saulos Chilima said the launch of free farm inputs distribution marked a step on the road to end hunger in the country.

“We need to end hunger once and for all, and then move to other development programs of the country,” said Chilima, adding the initiative will energise the agriculture sector.

He said it is also a demonstration of good collaboration between government and its partners.

While lauding Yara International and Bayer Limited for the initiative, the Vice-President appealed to African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), which will coordinate the program, to ensure the farm inputs reach the targeted farmers.

A number of speakers echoed on how COVID-19 has posed a new challenge to several sectors of development, including agriculture, rendering dozens of smallholder farmers more vulnerable across the country.

 “In the wake of COVID-19,   a large number of people in Africa could face acute hunger due to reduced demand of some products and services on the continent,” said Yara International Representative, Ian Lockington.

He said that was why his organisation launched an initiative ‘Action Africa-thriving farms, thriving future’, to mobilise 250, 000 smallholder farmers in seven African countries, including Malawi, to secure food production and improved food security.

According to AFAP Regional Director, Sheila Keino, the farm inputs to be distributed through the initiative will also benefit prisoners, child headed families, the aged, the economically disadvantaged and those who cannot afford to buy inputs under Affordable Input Program.

She said each farmer will receive one 50 Kg bag of NPK fertilizer and 2 Kg of hybrid maize seed.

Bayer Limited, which will distribute seed, have already doubled production for the cause to support AIP, according to the organisation’s Territory Manager, Thyphod Chirwa.

The government-initiated Affordable Inputs Program is expected to benefit 4.2 million people in across the country.