Youth Decide Campaign says Malawi needs a commercially-viable Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) devoid of politics running on business principles with a private sector partner.
The sentiments were made on Friday in Lilongwe when Youth Decide Campaign members led by team leader Charles Kajoloweka met Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Sosten Gwengwe on a wide range of issues.
Youth Decide Campaign is a national youth elections initiative championed by a consortium of civil society youth organisations, including Youth and Society (YAS), Network for Youth Development, Young Politicians Union, MHub and Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco).
A copy of recommendations discussed during the meeting and made available to The Nation states that the initiative wants the State produce trader to focus on ownership and business orientation.
Kajoloweka, who is YAS executive director, said during the meeting that Admarc needs a partner who buys off its debts as an equity and that the particular partner should be responsible for day-to-day operations to maintain business principles and make it commercially viable.
He said: “That way, Admarc will know what produce to aggregate, what to agro-process and what to export largely in State-to-State deals like we had with South Sudan.
“The State should only be a shareholder [sit on the board] to ensure national interests are protected like ensuring that food-insecure parts of the country are supplied with food produce since some areas may not be commercially viable.”
Kajoloweka said reforming Admarc should, therefore, not just be about downsizing its staff and number of warehouses it holds.
Gwengwe, on the other hand, gave an assurance that the government would look into the suggestions to ensure Malawians are best served.
He said the government is open for any recommendations and discussions on a wide range of issues.
Besides discussing Admarc reforms, the meeting also tackled corruption, review of the National Youth Policy, youth unemployment, the government internship programme, high cost of living, debt crisis and public sector reforms, among others.
This is not the first time for stakeholders to propose reforms at the financially struggling institution following its poor performance.
The parastatal has been struggling financially and has over the years failed to serve Malawians as per its mandate of produce stabiliser, ready market for farmers and a social function of the government’s food security apparatus.
In February 2022, it was reported that Admarc posted a K14 billion loss instead of a projected K3 billion profit.
Former Admarc general manager Rhyno Chiphiko told the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change in February 2022 that lack of funding to buy more crops affected the company.
Until 1987, Admarc was the sole buyer of smallholder produce, but in 2004, it was incorporated as a limited liability company with the government owning 99 percent of the shares.