A study by the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has shown that maize farmers have for the past two years been toiling for nothing.
CfSC, with funding from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Right to Food project, conducted the study on prices and gross margins of maize nationwide.
During the release of the findings on Tuesday, CfSC economic governance programme officer Lucky Mfungwe said unless a proper legal framework is put in place, farmers will continue producing maize at a loss because Malawi embraced market liberalisation.
He said the analysis of the actual gross margin in the two years show that farmers did not break even as figures show a negative gross margin, ranging from -K13 200 to -K151 113 in Lilongwe and Kasungu, respectively.
Mfungwe said: “The average expected gross income and the minimum farm-gate income remained constant at K374 000 and K330 000, respectively, in the past two seasons [2017/18 and 2018/19]. This indicates that the farm-gate price set by government is 13 percent lower than the expected price by the farmer.
“This is attributed to the fact that the expected maize price of the farmer was also constant at K170/kg and the minimum farm-gate prices has also been costant at K150/kg.”
A farmer from Kasiya in Lilongwe, Hastings Macnorris Njazi, said government lost it around 1994 when it abolished universal fertiliser access programme for farmers in clubs in favour of starter pack farm input programmes.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Principal Secretary Grey Nyandule Phiri said he was yet to see the report; hence, could not comment.
However, agriculture analyst Tamani Nkhono-Mvula faulted the maize marketing situation in Malawi, saying it remains volatile and unpredictable.