The Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has expressed concern over delayed intervention by State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) on the market and piecemeal purchase of commodities from farmers.
FUM president Alfred Kapichira-Banda made the remarks on Tuesday in Lilongwe during the 13th Annual Congress and Policy.
He said it is disappointing that officials watch over farmers’ harvest their produce without proper plans of opening the market fast enough to be the price leader.
“These people manning Admarc are Malawians and they know the season in our country. It is a shameful thing that after a farmer harvests his crops, the state procurer has no plans of purchasing. The vendors are the first people to buy crops from poor farmers and yet government will just come and announce prices, but do not appear on the ground,” he said.
Kapichira Banda said that last year when the country had a maize deficit, government rushed to borrow from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to procure maize from Zambia yet cannot source money to purchase maize from local farmers despite the bumper yield this year.
He also wondered why government set the price of buying maize at K170 per kilogramme (kg) when it was offering K250 per kg for the same last year to Zambian farmers.
On June 23 2017, Admarc opened markets for maize and is buying at K170 per kg or K8 500 per 50 kg bag.
In the recent months, farmers have been selling the grain at as low as K50 per kg or K2 500 per 50kg bag, a situation that brought down inflation.
In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said the State produce trader is usually faced with resource constraints because of the timing between the harvesting season and the time the national budget is passed in Parliament.
He said: “Our budget is approved in June. By that time, some people have already sold their commodities and middle men have taken advantage of the lack of a market. We need to look at the timing of the budget so that it is done in good time.”
“Or, alternatively, there must be a provision that Admarc would still get money even before the budget is approved. That is what we are discussing with the Ministry of Finance. We also need to find a way for Admarc to get resources on commercial basis, including from commercial banks so that they intervene in good time and with reasonable amounts”.
FUM has also called for the review of the Control of Goods act and harmonisation of the Seed Bill. n