Small-scale farmers have asked government to revamp the agriculture produce marketer Admarc depots which are in a dilapidated state.
The farmers, speaking last week at the launch of a campaign on access to agriculture markets for smallholder farmers, have also asked government to ensure timely funding of Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to help the struggling parastatal purchase agriculture produce from farmers in good time.
Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Alfred Kapichira-Banda said at the event that the farmers’ body is saddened by what he called laxity on the part of government to refurbish most Admarc depots that are in the state of disrepair.
“Most Admarc depots are not functioning and we wonder what government priorities are because Malawi is an agricultural-based country. We need to reclaim the lost glory that was there in Admarc,” he said.
Kapichira-Banda said previously, Admarc used to get its funding from government as early as April, but said the union is displeased to see parastatal now getting its share from government as late as June.
He said such a situation compels desperate farmers sell their produce to middle-men or vendors at low prices.
The FUM president also urged government to formulate a national agriculture marketing policy to help farmers access profitable agriculture markets across the country.
He also lamented that currently, most government-set minimum prices of most farm produce are not adhered to and bemoaned poor enforcement of such prices by government which he said is making farmers incur huge loses.
Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) executive director Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said it is pathetic to see most rural Admarc depots malfunctioning, saying the situation is mainly affecting the poor.
Oxfam Malawi executive director John Makina said the organisation will run the campaign with the aim of influencing political leaders to make a commitment to provide structured markets, functional Admarc and facilitate the process of formulating a comprehensive agriculture marketing policy by 2015.
During the launch, four political party representatives from the United Democratic Front (UDF), People’s Party (PP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) pledged their commitment to provide access to agriculture markets to smallholder farmers once they are voted into power after the May 20 elections.