Government has released about K16 billion to National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) for the purchase of maize from local traders and smallholder farmers.
This includes K5.4 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to NFRA and K11 billion to Admarc to buy about 44 000 metric tonnes (MT).
The arrangement means that government will not spend billions in importing maize following a bumper harvest of 3.2 million MT in the 2016/17 growing season.
The development is also likely to stabilise maize reserves in the event of the maize shortages of the magnitude of 2015/16 when about eight million Malawians required food assistance.
Briefing the media yesterday in Lilongwe on the 2017/18 maize purchases, NFRA chief executive officer Nasunuku Saukira said there would be two re-stocking exercises for the Strategic Grain Reserves (SGRs), one of which was 80 000 MT of maize from Admarc.
The other re-stocking, he said, would be 86 250MT of maize which the agency would buy using K5.4 billion from the government.
“The Malawi Government, through NFRA, will initially use K5.4 billion which is part of a $17 million African Development Bank loan concluded in the last part of 2016 between the Malawi Government and AfDB in order to help the government effectively respond to the 2016/17 humanitarian effort,” he said.
Apart from the loan, Saukira said the agency expects no less than K10 billion from the 2017/18 budget to complete the maize purchases.
These purchases would bring to a total of just over 200 000 MT in addition to 36 726 MT currently in the SGRs as carryover stock.
“We have started receiving 80 000 metric tonnes from Admarc which was procured last year on behalf of government to cater for the population that could afford to buy maize from Admarc. This will be part of the national stock and will form part of the SGRs,” Saukira said.
The agency has also just opened bids to buy the 86 250 MT of maize for which there has been overwhelming response from the private sector, he said.
On its part, Admarc said it has so far bought about 23 000MT of maize from smallholder farmers, an exercise that has been beset with challenges at its market.
Among these were reports that officials at Admarc markets were only buying a maximum 10 bags per farmer; that markets did not have adequate money and that market officials were conniving with private traders not to buy maize from smallholder farmers.
But Admarc acting chief executive officer Margaret Roka Mauwa said the government had released K11 billion to the institution, of which K6 billion has been spent to buy 23 000MT.
Admarc has planned to buy about 44 000MT of maize in 2017/8 in addition to the 103 000MT which it already has in stock. n