The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has questioned government’s involvement in placing ceilings on farm produce prices while letting input prices to be determined by market forces.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira expressed the sentiments yesterday at a workshop on national awareness and dialogue on the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) regional agriculture policy and the National Agriculture Policy.
He also queried the export ban on agricultural commodities, saying it reduces the market for farmers with the potential to export. He added that the ban also defeats the whole purpose of regional integration.
Kaferapanjira said while it is important for the country to be food secure at all times, setting minimum prices for produce and placing export bans on commodities transfers revenue from farmers to consumers and vendors; thereby, removing the incentives for farmers to make independent decisions on what they produce.
He said government should aim at buying enough maize and consider contacting private farmers to grow maize for the strategic grain reserves to ensure sustainable availability on the domestic market.
Said Kaferapanjira: “We have had hunger even during seasons of good rains because of government’s involvement in the agriculture commodities market.
“Last year, the price of maize was K250 [per kg]. Now the minimum price is at K170 [per kg]. What has happened for the price of maize to come down when the cost of inputs has gone up?”
Newly appointed Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) national director Pamela Kuwali is on record as having said the farm gate prices this year are lower than last year when supply was low.
She said farmers should bargain with buyers to ensure that they do not sell their produce at prices lower than the listed prices and, if possible, should store their produce and sell later in the year during the lean period when prices are competitive.