Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha Wednesday cleared some issues regarding the different pricing for buying maize from farmers by Admarc and National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).
He was responding to a question during a press briefing on Wednesday why the two government institutions were offering two different prices in buying maize from farmers in the country.
During the press briefing, the minister was providing an update of the progress of 2017 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP).
Mwanamvekha said Admarc is mandated to buy maize from farmers from the most remote areas, hence their pricing was as high as K170 per kilogramme (kg).
He said NFRA was brought in at a later stage to compliment Adamrc in the buying of the commodity with cities as its locality.
“From the look of things, NFRA was actually buying maize from middlemen not local farmers. If you have to find out how much these middlemen were buying from local farmers, the price were just too low as compared to what they are selling to NFRA,” the Minister explained.
He said NFRA was buying the commodity at K130 per kg and these middlemen were actually cashing in on the local farmer.
Mwanamvekha said NFRA received K5.1 billion to buy maize to be kept at a national strategic grain reserves.
“After seeing that the two institutions have managed to purchase the required amount of maize, the President, after visiting Admarc in Blantyre, ordered the lift of ban on the exportation of maize to other countries,” he pointed out.
The Minister viewed that this would enable the private trader to sell the maize they have purchased through the local markets to international markets without problems whilst the country is sure of the availability of the produce in its grain reserves.
Director of Planning Services in the Ministry, Alex Namaona, said the country has maize surplus of 186,000 metric tonnes.
He said the country’s strategic grain reserves need to stock-pile more than 253,000 tonnes for the country to be able to feed itself without asking for any outside help.
“One of our challenges as a ministry is we are not able to quantify the available maize stocks being kept by private traders. The country has no legislation to mandate the ministry to inspect these stocks so we should have accurate data of maize stocks within the country.
“In America, there is legislation where the ministry is allowed to inspect such stocks,” Namaona said.
Reports from some districts in the country were indicating that middlemen were accessing the maize commodity at as low as K40.00 to K60.00 per kg depending on the locality.
Some local traders were calling for the lifting of the maize-exportation ban in order for them to access international markets where they thought the prices could have been better as compared to the local markets as a result of the availability of maize within reach.