Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) public relations officer Agnes Chikoko explains to Albert Sharra why some of the institutionâ€™s markets are closed.
Â It is reported that in most parts of Malawi, Admarc markets are closed. Why?
Admarc operates over 800 markets across the country and nine main depots for central storage and quality control. Out of the 800 markets, some are permanent which operate throughout the year whereas others are seasonal or social markets which are opened for sales during lean periods, or for Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme or for buying produce. So, depending on what time of the season, some of the social markets will be closed because there is no activity at that particular point in time. If need be, we open these markets to serve a particular purpose.
Some people are complaining that they are buying maize at a higher price on the parallel market because most Admarc markets are closed. When are you opening the markets?
Currently, most of our major markets are open and selling maize, especially in areas where demand is very high. We also have markets where stocks of maize are idle because demand is low. In such cases, Admarc is moving stocks to where maize is needed. All the town markets in Blantyre i.e Chilobwe, Zingwangwa, Chilomoni, Ndirande, Bangwe, Machinjiri, just to mention a few, are open. In addition, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Balaka and Zomba markets are fully operational and maize is being distributed in these markets.
How do you describe business at the markets so far?
I can say everything is good at the moment. We are doing our best to ensure that all markets where there is demand for the crop have enough maize in stock .As pointed out above, we are moving maize from centres where demand is low to where demand is high. We have not received any serious cases of maize shortages in our markets. You should also be aware that Admarcâ€™s selling price of maize is lower than the council markets to make it affordable to the masses.Â However, this is creating congestion as some people want to sweep the maize and sell it at a profit, which is not the objective of Admarc.
Reports indicate that the country does not have sufficient maize. What is your comment on this?
In the South, demand is high but there is low demand in Central and Northern regions. Therefore, it is just a matter of moving stocks from low demand areas to high demand areas, moving stocks from central depots to markets. And that is what is being done now.
Do you think Admarc is doing enough to regulate prices of commodities such as maize so that unscrupulous traders do not rip off consumers?
Admarc buys produce at government approved prices set by the Ministry of Agriculture and we sell at affordable prices. Currently, our selling price for maize is the lowest so that every Malawian can afford it. We are controlling prices by ensuring that maize is available at our markets and we are also offering lower prices on the product. Our message is that people should go to Admarc for maize. If this happens, these unscrupulous traders will be forced to lower their prices as well.
What is your last message to Malawians on Admarc markets.
Admarc was there, is there and will always be there to serve Malawians by providing a ready market for agricultural produce/products at competitive prices.