Key stakeholders in the agriculture sector have welcomed government’s decision to allow Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to enter the maize market earlier in the 2020 agricultural season.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Francis Kasaila yesterday announced at a news conference in Lilongwe that Treasury has given Admarc K3 billion to start buying maize tomorrow in all markets in the Southern Region, including Ntcheu which is administratively in the Central Region.
The minister said Admarc will open similar markets on April 20 in the Central Region and April 27 in the Northern Region.
However, for selected commodities such as beans and soya beans,
Kasaila said Admarc will open markets earlier in the Central Region.
He said this when he announced new minimum farm gate prices for strategic crops governing the 2019/20 agricultural season.
Reacting to the early participation of Admarc on the market this year, National Association of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi (Nasfam) chief executive officer Betty Chinyamunyamu yesterday described the development as welcome, especially considering that previously, the parastatal could only start participating in the market as late as July.
But she said given the wider network of Admarc, it was imperative for the institution to serve more farmers, especially those operating from the remotest areas that are riddled with market failures, leaving innocent farmers at the mercy of unscrupulous traders.
On measures put in place to shield farmers against exploitative tendencies by some traders, she said it was important for authorities to strictly enforce the measures while avoiding laxity during enforcement.
During this year’s agricultural season, anyone who wants to buy crops from farmers is expected to have a licence obtained from programme managers at Karonga, Mzuzu, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Salima, Machinga, Blantyre and Shire Valley agricultural development divisions (ADDs) as well as from the director of crops development at the ministry’s headquarters in Lilongwe.
The licence fee remains K10 000 per commodity.
To enforce these minimum prices, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in conjunction with relevant authorities has vowed to continuously monitor and enforce compliance with the set minimum prices nationwide.
In a separate interview, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM president Frighton Njolomole yesterday also said they are happy with the decision to allow Admarc to buy maize from farmers as early as April and described the K200 per kilogramme minimum price set by government as reasonable.
Grain Traders Association of Malawi president Grace Mijiga Mhango yesterday described both the new set minimum price for maize and the early coming of Admarc on the market as a positive development, stressing that government had also consulted the association prior to setting prices for maize and other grain.
She recalled that last year government set K180 per kilogramme as minimum price for maize, but eventually the price dropped to K150 per kg to the discomfort of many farmers across the country.