State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is short of funds to buy produce and is still negotiating for an K89 billion credit from Export Development Fund (EDF) to facilitate the exercise.
Briefing journalists in Blantyre yesterday, Admarc chief executive officer (CEO) Felix Jumbe said the funds from EDF alongside its allocation from government would be used to procure about 400 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize.
“We will be getting tranche by tranche [of] that money which we believe would take us to about 400 000 MT and when we reach that level with that stocks in our warehouses, we will have guaranteed the country’s food security and stability of our inflation,” he said.
Jumbe said Admarc has in the past two weeks used about K1 billion to buy maize and other crops out of the K5 billion government released for the exercise.
The corporation started buying maize from farmers on April 14 and, so far, it has bought 2 200 MT of maize, 1600 MT of soya beans, 144 MT of cotton seed, among other tonnes of beans and sunflower.
This is the first time in many years that Admarc has gone on the market to procure maize from farmers in the first-half of the year.
Previously, the corporation justified its delay to go on the market by saying maize has high moisture content soon after harvest which makes storage difficult.
Jumbe said almost all the maize has been bought from the Southern Region because that is where the grain is ready while more soya has been procured in the Central Region with other crops being bought in the North.
“In the next two weeks, we anticipate to have around 25 000 MT of maize in all our warehouses. Currently, we have 128 Admarc markets opened but we anticipate to have 252 markets opened by month-end,” he said.
Markets to be opened this week include Limbe, Balaka, Luchenza and Liwonde in the Southern Region, Lilongwe and Salima in the Central Region and Mzuzu, Mzimba and Chilumba in the Northern Region.
Jumbe also said some employees have been dismissed for engaging in corruption by demanding money from farmers who are selling their crops to Admarc.
Reports indicate that some unscrupulous Admarc buyers are demanding K1 000 from farmers per 50 kilogramme bag of maize which Admarc is buying at K10 000. The corporation has this time around focused on buying its produce from small-scale farmers.
This year, Admarc is buying maize at K200 per kg up from K150 last year when it started buying the grain in August.
Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) executive director Pamela Kuwali said in an earlier interview it was important for Admarc to buy farm produce from farmers at competitive prices.
According to the First Round of Agricultural Production Survey, there is an estimated 8.8 percent increase in maize production from 3 393 924MT in the 2018/19 growing season to 3 691 866MT in the 2019/20 season.
Speaking when he presented the mid-year budget statement, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said government had this year set aside K9.2 billion to allow Admarc to buy maize from growers.