AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX), a subsidiary of AHL Group formerly Auction Holdings Limited, and engaged by government to buy 32 000 metric tonnes (MT) maize for the strategic grain reserves, have expressed optimism of meeting the target by the end of October.
In an interview on Tuesday in Lilongwe, AHCX research and communications manager Mark Ndipita said they have so far bought 9 500MT.
He said: “The start was slow as we experienced challenges because some suppliers were bringing poor quality maize which was rejected. Some grain had live infestation of weevils and had high moisture content.
“But after sensitisation through radios and newspapers, the quality of the maize has improved and this will also help us to achieve our plan.”
Treasury provided K5 billion for the purchase of maize by AHCX which was contracted by National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).
The maize is being bought at K150 per kilogramme.
“Small-scale farmers with not more than 15 metric tonnes have this year participated and have benefitted,” said Ndipita.
The buying of maize comes against the backdrop of the final round of the 2017/18 Agriculture Production Estimate Survey which showed 22.1 percent drop in maize output this year at 2.6 million MT from 3.4 million MT in the 2017/18 farming season.
The ministry’s survey also coincided with the recently released 2018 Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) Report which projected that at least 3.3 million Malawians will be food insecure this year following a decrease in maize output largely due to the twin problem of dry spells and fall armyworm attack.
The Mvac report said the affected population will require 138 488MT of relief maize worth K23.5 million.
Recently, Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) programmes director Alfred Kambwiri said the multi-billion kwacha Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) has failed to address the problem of food insecurity and asked government to find a permanent solution to address chronic food insecurity.
He said Fisp only benefits the same people who are also targeted with relief food items. n