Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture is recommending that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) should relinquish its role of buying maize for strategic grain reserves to Admarc.
The development follows the recent engagement meetings between the committee, the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and government on former’s operations and other agriculture-related issues.
The recommendation, according to the committee, is necessary to ensure that farmers directly benefit from funds allocated in the national budget.
The committee’s vice-chairperson Ulemu Chilapomdwa explained that the shift will see small-scale farmers benefiting through minimum prices as opposed to large traders who supply maize to NFRA, exploiting small scale farmers with poor prices below recommended minimum prices.
He said: “There should be segregation of responsibility, while Admarc is in the grain marketing business, NFRA should concentrate on its grain storage responsibility after Admarc buys on its behalf.
“Farmers should benefit, they should not be reaped off of their benefits each year, let farmers enjoy their sweat moving forward.”
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Erica Maganga welcomed the recommendations but said it will be subject to consultations before considering adoption.
“The committee feels Admarc should shoulder the responsibility of maize purchases because it has its markets closer to the farmers. This is a welcome suggestion and we will discuss within the Ministry and with Treasury on the need to allocate more resources in relation to next year’s anticipated outcome of the Affordable Inputs Programme,” she said.
In the 2020-21 National Budget, government has allocated K10 billion for purposes of maize purchase, split between Admarc and NFRA for storage in readiness for the lean period food demands.
Government has also backed Admarc to borrow K22 billion from commercial banks for maize purchases. n