State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has launched investigations into allegations that some of its officials are exploiting farmers by tampering with weighing scales and soliciting bribes in the procurement of maize.
In an interview yesterday, Admarc board chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi said they have received reports of various malpractices in the procurement of the commodity.
He said: “The complaints are similar. Some of the allegations are that the unit market officers are not buying maize from actual farmers. They are allegedly conniving with traders because Admarc is this time buying directly from farmers. They say on each bag they charge K1 000.
“The other complaint is that when farmers go to sell the maize at the unit markets, they experience reduction in weight of their produce. The farmers weigh the maize before getting to the market, but when they reach there, they find that quantities are below [what they weighed].”
Dzonzi also said there are also allegations that when Admarc gives money to unit market officers, they use a certain amount to buy from farmers and vendors.
“They get a bigger part of the money to source the produce at lower prices and sell the same to Admarc to make profits,” he said.
The malpractices are allegedly prevalent in some parts of Chitipa, Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu and Lilongwe districts.
Dzonzi stressed that the corporation is seriously looking into the allegations to establish the truth and take action against those involved.
He said their investigators and auditors have been deployed to various parts of the country to verify the issues and fight the malpractices
Dzonzi said Admarc is this year buying maize directly from farmers to get quality produce.
“Admarc is also expected to export some of the maize and if we are going to compete with other countries on exports, we need quality maize. Already, our prices are higher so we will need a commodity that should attract buyers,” he said.
Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said the ministry has not received any formal report on the matter; hence, the corporation was best-placed to comment.
Admarc recently announced that it had sourced about K12 billion for the purchase of maize. It is expected to buy 300 000 metric tonnes of maize from farmers across the country.
The firm’s total budget for the maize purchases is pegged at K45 billion.
The company is currently buying maize in Central and Northern regions.