Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has asked government to reduce maize farm gate prices if the country is to export its surplus maize.
Speaking at Parliament on Tuesday when Admarc appeared before the joint budget cluster comprising committees of Agriculture and Food Security, and Natural Resources and Climate Change, Admarc acting chief executive officer Dhlelisile Phiri said the price of K150 per kilogramme is on the higher side compared to other countries.
She said Malawi cannot compete on exports with maize prices that are higher than other countries considering that many countries in the region have also recorded bumper harvests.
Said Phiri: “Countries surrounding Malawi have also had bumper yields and their farm gate prices are lower. Considering that we are supposed to buy and export the surplus maize, it will be difficult to export with the current price of maize.”
Asked if government will consider Admarc’s appeal, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu asked for more time to consult on the matter.
But the ministry recently announced that government will export surplus maize and lifted the maize export ban to allow Admarc and other traders to export the staple grain.
In an interview, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Fright on Njolomole said the issue raised by Admarc is tricky as farmers want good prices to cover the cost of production.
He said: “Yes, if there is bumper yield, the best option is to export to avoid wastage. But revising farm gate prices will affect farmers who need to recover their production costs. Why was this issue
not raised earlier?
“If Admarc has noted that our prices are higher then government should look into the issue.”
Njolomole recommended that government should support Admarc with its financial needs, saying if Admarc is assisted farmers, too, will benefit.
On 15 March 2021, the Ministry of Trade announced a temporary lifting of the maize export ban, which had been in place since February 2018 to help stabilise national grain supplies amid concerns over the weather-reduced harvest in 2018.
Government decided to issue export licences following the update of the national food balance sheet by the Ministry of Agriculture in January 2021 that indicated the country would have a surplus following a successful Affordable Inputs Programme