Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) has faulted State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) for sourcing maize from private traders instead of buying directly from farmers.
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development granted Admarc a guarantee to borrow up to about K6.9 billion (about $10.8million) to purchase maize in the 2016 marketing season.
But in its tender notice published on April 6 2016, Admarc indicated it would source 150 000 metric tonnes of maize from private traders, a process CisaNet argues will impact on rural poor farmers.
CisaNet, in a statement reacting to the notice, observed that if Admarc proceeded to buy maize from vendors, the move will create room for the vendors to buy the produce at less than the government set minimum prices, thereby giving farmers a raw deal.
“In other words, the rural poor farmers will continue to be exploited by vendors and thereby worsening their poverty even despite selling their produce.
“It should, therefore, be pointed out that Admarc should not abrogate its social responsibility of buying and selling agricultural produce from farmers in Malawi,” reads the statement signed by CisaNet national director Tamani Nkhono-Mvula.
The statement observes that Admarc is critical in alleviating rural farmers’ poverty when it buys their produce at government set minimum prices as such it must open its rural markets and buy maize directly from them so that they are saved from vendor’s exploitation.
In an earlier interview, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Nations Msowoya said unlike in the past, this year government wants Admarc to open its markets on time so that it has a fair competition with private traders.
The network says the 150 000 metric tonnes of maize, if bought and released on the market in good time, will help to lower prices and prevent people from queuing for days.