People’s Party (PP) leader in Parliament Uladi Mussa has asked government to fund grain trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) with K4.8 billion to buy maize and legumes in preparation for the looming hunger.
In his party’s response to the State of the Nation Address, which President Peter Mutharika delivered on Tuesday, Mussa said it was worrying that the President made no mention of recapitalising Admarc which he said was a more reliable market for maize for rural Malawians.
Mussa said he had information that Admarc required 30 000 to 40 000 metric tonnes to restock its markets and bail out Malawians, but it had no money.
He said Admarc needed between K3.6 billion (US$8 372 093) and K4.8 billion (US$11 162 791) to buy this maize, but instead government has plans to provide K8 billion to National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to restock Strategic Grain Reserves (SGRs).
“We are leaving maize trading in the hands of unscrupulous traders who are ripping off Malawians,” Mussa said, adding resources to restocking SGRs should be increased to K15 billion.
Mussa was concurring with Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera who demanded that government explain how much maize the country needs to sail through lean months ahead.
Chakwera was also against the importation of maize, describing such plans as Cashgate wearing a different robe because of the possibility of inflated importation costs.
Said Chakwera: “The money set aside to purchase maize must benefit Malawians who have maize, instead of importing maize from outside. Or let it be invested to allow companies such as Illovo to produce maize in the next three months.”
The country has this year experienced a 27.7 percent drop in crop production, with maize hovering just above the 2.5 million metric tonnes (MT) requirement, at 2.8 million MT.