Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has accused the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) of failing to buy farm produce from farmers despite storming the market earlier than usual.
Speaking to journalists in Lilongwe on Monday, FUM president Frighton Njolomole alleged that some Admarc employees are profiteering by buying maize from farmers at K100 per kilogramme (kg) and selling it to the State produce trader at government set minimum price of K200 per kg.
In an interview on Monday, Admarc chief executive officer Felix Jumbe admitted that there are some unscrupulous workers within the institution engaging in the malpractice.
He said Admarc management is working to discipline or get rid of them.
Njolomole claimed that some Admarc officials are also demanding K1 000 per 50 kg bag from farmers for them to sell their grain to Admarc.
He said: “Admarc management should discipline its unscrupulous and unpatriotic employees who are profiteering from this year’s marketing season.”
Njolomole called on Admarc to prioritise ordinary farmers in buying of agricultural commodities, including cotton which has been abandoned by the ginners due to Covid-19 pandemic.
But Jumbe said Admarc has in the past been performed poorly and lost trust because of malpractices perpetrated by some workers at Admarc.
On the opening of the markets across the country, he said so far Admarc has opened about 400 markets, representing about 50 percent market operational status.
The parastatal has about 700 markets nationwide.
Jumbe assured farmers that Admarc will open its markets up to September this year to buy farm produce subject to availability of money.
He said: “Admarc is proving itself that it is the only viable option for government to source maize and all other commodities from farmers across the country.
“We are calling on all farmers to sell their produce to us. We will be rectifying all the challenges that are there to ensure smooth operations.”
In the 2020/21 fiscal year, Treasury has allocated K10 billion for maize purchases by the National Food Reserve Agency to restock the Strategic Grain Reserves and Admarc for its social function.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said that in addition, a total of $8.4 million (about K6.3 billion) from the World Bank is also available for maize purchase.
“Admarc will be allowed to borrow from financial institutions to purchase additional stock,” he said.