A report released early last year by Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) projected that maize prices were likely to rise as a result of no carryover stocks occasioned by the effects of El Nino weather phenomenon.
But the recent increase in maize prices was received with mixed feelings with most civil society organisations attributing the high prices to the alleged corruption at Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (Admarc) in procuring maize from neighbouring Zambia.
Admarc, which has recently been under the spotlight for the alleged maize scandal, had planned to purchase 60 000 metric tonnes from local farmers and 150 000 from private traders.
The purchase was supposed to cushion the country’s maize reserves as an estimated 8 million Malawians faced extreme food shortages as a result of floods and dry spells that reduced maize production by 30 percent from 3 978 123 metric tonnes to 2 776 277 metric tonnes in 2016.
According to the national maize requirement, 3.2 million metric tonnes is needed to feed the nation, but floods that hit the country in 2015 adversely affected the agricultural sector as it did not produce the required amount.
Last year, Civil Society Agricultural Network (CisaNet) protested against Admarc’s buying of maize at K165 per kg, suggesting that State produce marketer should have been buying at K180 per kg to cushion the farmers from effects of the drought and also recover their production costs.
However, Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe defended the move then, saying the price at which they were buying was far much better than the previous year’s K100 per kg.
However, projections show that Admarc must have made some losses while buying the maize from the public at a lower price, hence the hike in the price to K250 per kilogramme was perceived justifiable. n