It is clear the commodity trader, Admarc competes against itself when it comes to playing with food. For years, maize rotting in Admarc has become so commonplace that one can be tempted to think there is a syndicate that benefits from the rot.
Subtly put, Admarc is not only playing with food, it is also playing with the Malawi economy.
For years, maize rotting in Admarc hands has, sadly, been part of running of affairs there.
For instance, in 2016, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Parliamentary committee took to task how Admarc sold rotten maize on the market. That was 7 000 metric tonnes.
That year, Admarc sweet-coated the rotten maize as discoloured. It had to take the then chair for the committee Welani Chilenga to call the selling of rotten maize to Malawians as an insult. He was right, selling rotten discoloured maize is an insult to the populace.
Here, it gets interesting. Admarc attributed the rotten maize to the fact that they bought it with moisture levels that are recommended. This is interesting because we will get back to it.
What is sad is that Admarc was at the time selling the maize at K100 per kilogramme, lower than the K125 farmgate price at the time.
How Admarc has survived all these years is a miracle greater than cooking oil that never runs dry from the bottle no matter how much you use.
Round about that time, an assessment report of the grain reserves across the country done by donors led by the USAid revealed that almost 4 821 metric tonnes of maize was not in good condition, 2 910.96 metric tonnes was characterised as dust and chaff, 410.5 metric tons having high aflatoxin levels and almost 1 500 metric tonnes was found to be no longer of use as it had been in silos for too long or has been too dry for consumption.
The health hazards of the rotten maize is all clear. Some Malawians are forced to buy simply because they have no alternative food.
All this is coming out because Admarc this week came up with the same old song of rotten maize because they bought it with high moisture content. How Admarc thought repeating the mistake would yield a different result will only bamboozle you.
Admarc board chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi conceded 1 265 metric tonnes of maize that was bought between April and June last year was rotten. It is most unfortunate that the lot is part of the 5 000 metric tonnes they bought with a K253.1 million loan from local commercial banks.
And Kusamba Dzonzi says that the maize is not fit to be consumed even by animals.
To say that Admarc is not only playing with food but also the country’s economy, therefore is not far from the truth. How will the loan be serviced? Next time, are we going to be surprised that Admarc is asking government for bailouts?
This is a very sad development that the statutory corporation which must be on top of things to know that 30 percent of the country’s yield goes down the drain in post harvest losses. Primarily, the average farmer or maize trader knows that high moisture content is one of the reasons maize rots. Sheer negligence can be the only reason for buying maize with high moisture content.
Playing with maize, as Admarc is doing, is playing with the Malawi economy, the commodity contributes about 42 percent to the consumer price index (CPI). Basically, when Admarc plays with maize, its power to supply falls, leaving poor Malawians to be at the mercy of other traders. What happens, then, is that the price rises and with that comes an increase in the price of other goods.
Isn’t it time those playing with the staple at Admarc were brought to book? Repeating the same mistake several times has never been a coincidence. There is some rot at Admarc.