By Owen Nyaka:
The second universal affordable farm input exercise in President Chakwera’s administration has begun across the country in order to identify beneficiaries of the 2021/22 farming season with front liners that are doing registration of Agriculture Input Programme (AIP) facing serious challenges in capturing data.
A field visit at Chiluwa section within Chiluwa Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Salima district conducted by Salima Governance Network (SAGNET) with support from Tilitonse Foundation establish a number of grey areas that needs to be looked into before end of the exercise.
Notably was that most front liners that are doing the exercise have no gadgets such as smart phones to capture the data as such they are manually writing the national identification numbers which sometimes are miss captured by data entry personnel. The print out of names that were benefitted in the last growing season has a font size which is very small as such it could be problematic to verify national identification numbers.
The challenges also includes frontliners walking very long distances in conducting door to door registration to avoid repetition of names. Some Group Village Heads lacks accuracy data in terms of knowing their households – some extending the names whilst some reducing.
There are also growing worries to villagers that are living in villages which have not been gazetted by government since the exercise is only targeting villages that are recognized at district councils.
Most of the sites that were visited, chiefs, extension workers, villagers and members of Affordable Input Programme Accountability Club (AIPAC) are pleading with authorities to consider extending the period of registration exercise.
One of the front liner, Assistant Veterinary Officer, Chifundo Kamange says in seven (7) villages only at Nkhwangwa village within T/A Mwanza they have managed to register 750 people door to door in two days.
“We are pleading if there could be an extension of the registration exercise because we are meeting a lot of challenges to document transfers of households, and deleting someone without proper tracing could be a challenge. In this village, most of the households are in Mzimba working in farms.
“I have developed my excel and I am using my personal gadget but to some that are relying on handwritten, I feel special consideration should be done that the same people should be involved in entering the data because this is one area how things are messed, for instance there are some letters that one can easily make a mistake with some numbers,” says Kamange.
She said in some villages most of the households shun the exercise opting for drinking kiosks yet when one is missed at this stage it would not be possible to be entered into the system hence there is need for an extension in order to leave no one behind.
Affordable Input Programme Accountability Club (AIPAC) vice Secretary, Honest Chingalawa of Chiluwa EPA says the AIP registration exercise has only been given two weeks to verify beneficiaries of last growing season as well as registering new entrants yet this is a crucial moment if President Chakwera’s campaign promise of reaching many Malawians accessing affordable fertilizer and seeds subsidy could be attained.
One of AIP beneficiary, Rhoda Chilaza, 52years of Thofa village, traditional authority Mwanza in Salima district is one of the beneficiary of last year’s affordable farm input. Born on September 8, 1969, Chilaza says since God created this earth, it is only last year that she was selected to benefit in the AIP.
“From nothing in the previous years, this farming season I have harvested 40 bags of maize after getting the affordable fertilizer and seed tinyambita (we are done with hunger).
“Since I lost my husband in 2013, I am struggling to support my four children all girls. One of my daughter is doing nursing at Malosa and part of the maize yield, I will sell to support her education tuition fees,” says Chilaza adding that this programme should continue because it is uplifting many people’s lives especially in the rural areas.