Malawi Government has condemned the conduct of some traders who are buying farm produce from local farmers with the purpose of hoarding it for illegal export later.
A press statement released by the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) indicated that this is in contravention of the laws.
According to the statement, the unscrupulous traders have mounted weighing scales in most corners of the country, especially in rural areas, cheating farmers to sell their produce at low prices.
“Whether inadvertently or not this conduct is taking place when these traders have not been licensed to buy such produce directly from Malawian farmers. The government of Malawi wishes to remind these traders that their behaviour contravenes the law of this land in respect of the following statutes: (1) The Agriculture General Purposes Act 1987: (2) The Smallholder Marketing regulation Act 1987 and the Business Licensing under the Business Act,” reads the statement in part.
Government has since requested traders to stop the unscrupulous conduct, warning that those who carry on with the act will face prosecution by law.
The March Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) report indicated that since mid-February, it has been difficult for local traders to find maize in traditional source markets, and that larger traders with links to export companies were the only ones who could source maize more easily.
In the statement, government further argued that the legumes and maize realised this season came about as a result of government investments through programmes such as Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), Greenbelt Initiative and Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction, among others.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security was allocated a total of K68 billion (about $161m) in the 2012/13 budget with the major allocation, a total of K40.6 billion (about $97m), going towards the Fisp for the purchase of 150 000 metric tonnes of fertilisers.
Within the provision of the Fisp, K7.6 billion (about $18m) was provided for the procurement of maize and legume seeds for distribution to smallholder farmers across the country.
The Green Belt Irrigation Initiative on the other hand was allocated K1 billion (about $2.3m) for scaling up irrigation initiatives across the country.
“The main aim of these programmes are to ensure that the citizens of this country become food sufficient both on national and household levels, but most importantly to also ensure that the country should recover its economy in the shortest time possible,” the statement reads.
Government has, therefore, called on those traders that wish to continue with the business of buying and selling farm produce to apply for the necessary legal licences including the agriculture permit, the business licence and obtain the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) registration certificate.