The Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has called on President Peter Mutharika to order the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to reduce the price of maize from K12 500 per 50kg to K8 000.
A press statement CfSC issued yesterday says the maize price in Admarc depots, which is higher than what vendors are demanding, is worsening the hunger situation in the country as poor Malawians cannot afford the staple.
“The centre strongly urges government to immediately reduce the price of maize to a proposed range of K8 000 to K9 000 with a view to genuinely cushion citizens against economic challenges and inflationary effects.
“The price rise takes care of the changes in inflation in comparison to previous year,” reads the statement in part.
In response to an e-mailed questionnaire, CfSC economic governance programmes officer Lucky Mfungwe emphasised the need for Admarc to reduce the price, saying the State grain marketer bought the maize at an average of K150 per kg.
“The farm gate minimum price finding for the 2015/16 was at an average of K150/kg translating to K7 500 per 50kg bag at farm gate.
“In addition, the inflationary influence on the price should see it to be relatively higher than last year, but surely not as higher as 129% in nominal terms. The percentage change of the consumer price index shows a 44% increment from 2015 (CPI=250) to 2016(CPI=261). Factoring this on the maize price it implies the current price should go at K7920,” he said.
Mfungwe also said Admarc must use money that was earmarked for the purchase of maize abroad to cushion the price.
Commenting on the issue, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga agreed with CfSC, saying most of the maize was sourced locally, therefore, it was cheaper and the price needs to go down immediately.
Meanwhile, a joint committee of Parliament is conducting a public inquiry into circumstances surrounding how Admarc imported maize from Zambia last year. n