Some Admarc officials are allegedly posing as vendors buying maize from smallholder farmers at a lower price using the corporation’s money and reselling the grain to the State produce trader.
The development has angered Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) and an agriculture expert who have since asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Malawi Police Service (MPS) to investigate the matter.
During The Nation fact-finding mission to appreciate how small-scale farmers are benefiting from Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation’s (Admarc) early maize purchase, out of 12 markets we visited in Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Phalombe and Zomba last Friday, none of them were buying the grain and officers said they had run out of money.
The development compelled desperate farmers to sell their maize to vendors at as low as K120 per kilogramme (kg), K80 less than the government recommended buying price of K200 per kg for the 2020 harvesting season as announced by Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Francis Kasaila earlier this month.
But at Mbulumbudzi Trading Centre in Chiradzulu, some vendors were seen buying maize from farmers at K140/kg. Surprisingly, they were packing the grain in Admarc-branded bags.
When asked in an interview on Sunday how Admarc-branded bags found their way into vendors’ hands, Admarc acting chief executive officer Felix Jumbe revealed that some of the corporation’s officers are using the institution’s money to dupe farmers.
He said as of Sunday, the corporation had arrested two Admarc cashiers one each in Balaka and Blantyre in connection with the matter.
Said Jumbe: “This is the problem with Admarc officers; most of them have got corrupt practices. They would want to do a business on a business.”
He urged community members and the media to report all corrupt Admarc officers to relevant authorities.
Commenting on the issue, FUM president Frighton Njolomole expressed shock at the corrupt acts by Admarc officers. He asked ACB and police to investigate the matter.
He said: “This is a very sad development. I believe this has not just started now.”
On his part, agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula observed that what some Admarc officials are doing to use the corporation’s money is a serious offence which needs both ACB and the MPS to be brought in to investigate the matter.
Earlier this month, Admarc, indicated that it was seeking a K100 billion loan from the Export Development Fund to finance the purchase of maize and cash crops from small-scale farmers to revamp itself into a serious business entity as Treasury capital injection alone would not be enough.
This year, the corporation plans to buy 600 000 metric tonnes of maize.