Vendors in some local markets are buying maize from small-scale farmers at lower than government’s 2021 recommended minimum price of K150 per kilogramme (kg), The Nation has learnt.
A spot-check in some of the country’s local markets at the weekend indicates that vendors are buying the staple grain between K70 and K110/kg.
For instance, at Chadzunda and Madziabango trading centres in Blantyre Rural; vendors are buying maize in a five-litre plastic bucket at between K350 and K400, which translates to between K70 and K80/kg. The situation is similar at Fulirwa Market in Traditional Authority Wasambo in Karonga where a 20-litre bucket is sold at K35/kg. While at Kamwendo Trading Centre in Mchinji, vendors are buying maize at between K80 and K110/kg.
In an interview yesterday, Farmers Union of Malawi president Frighton Njolomole said they have noted that in almost all markets nationwide, vendors are buying maize from small-scale farmers at less than the maize farm gate price.
He said anybody buying maize at less than K150 should be arrested because they are defying government directive.
Said Njolomole: “We have actually been hearing about this and it’s all over. Vendors are not supposed to do that. It’s exploiting their own people, exploiting their own Malawians. That’s not on.”
He pleaded with farmers not to sell their maize to vendors at a giveaway price, saying they should wait for Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) which will be buying a K150/kg.
Admarc announced that it had opened its markets last week , but it is yet to start buying maize because the grain’s moisture content is more than the recommended 13 percent.
Asked when Admarc is expected to start buying maize from farmers, board chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi said they will wait until the moisture content reaches 13 percent.
He was optimistic that they will buy about 1.1 million metric tonnes (MT) of maize.
According to Kusamba Dzonzi, the Ministry of Agriculture is arresting all illegal vendors without a licence and all those buying maize at less than K150/ kg.
He said: “We are asking farmers that they shouldn’t lose hope. They must remember that last year we started buying from November, but right now we are just waiting for moisture content in maize to go down to 13 percent. But I am assuring farmers that very soon, we will start buying maize.”
In a separate interview, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Grecian Lungu said the ministry is working in collaboration with traditional, religious and political leaders as well as police to ensure the enforcement of farm gate prices.
He said the ministry launched a toll free line 3013 to allow farmers to report vendors who are buying farm produce lower than the recommended prices.