There was drama at Lilongwe Admarc Depot yesterday when over 100 maize traders were told that they could not get their payment immediately.
It was alleged that payment could not be processed because some Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) bosses are out of the country looking for more maize to supplement the 12.4 percent deficit in the 2015/16 agricultural season.
According to the traders, they were getting paid soon after delivery, but they were surprised on the day when they were told that payment would be made on Tuesday next week.
On Tuesday this week, traders say only 15 out of about 50 received their money while the rest were told to wait a bit longer.
Admarc is buying maize at K250 per kilogramme (kg) while other private traders are offering K220 per kg.
“We have been delivering maize here and every time we delivered maize we were being paid there and then. We were surprised that on Wednesday we were told that Admarc does not have enough money to pay all of us.
“We found this to be disgusting because we were not told earlier that they do not have money,” said one trader who identified himself as Innocent.
The trader said they were told that it was difficult to raise cheques because some bosses are abroad looking for the staple grain; hence, payment will delay.
However, the delay in payment is coming after Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development granted Admarc a guarantee to borrow up to K6.9 billion (about $10.8 million) to purchase maize in the 2016 marketing season.
When The Nation crew visited the market, over 60 trucks were at the depot offloading while some traders were taking their maize to sell to private traders.
“We wanted to sell the maize to Admarc because they are offering better prices but to be told to wait for two to three days for payment is not on. We are traders and we want to pay back loans and other expenses we have already incurred, including transport. This is the reason why other traders are taking their trucks out to sell the maize to Indian traders,” added innocent.
Manager at the depot, a Mrs Jere, refused to comment, accusing The Nation of concentrating on negative reporting.
“When we were buying maize normally why did you not write? You are coming here because there are problems! I will not comment go to Malangalanga Admarc and talk to the regional manager,” she said.
Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe said he was in transit and could only comment in Malawi.
The results of government food security assessment projected that about 6.5 million of the country’s 17 million people will not meet their annual food requirements during 2016/17 consumption period; hence recommended an estimated 493 000 metric tonnes of humanitarian food assistance.
Figures from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development show that maize production this year has been estimated at 2.4 million metric tonnes before adjusting for post-harvest loses. n