High transport costs have led to Admarc’s failure to collect over 5 000 metric tonnes of maize from the National Food Reserves Agency (NFRA), thereby worsening the shortage of the commodity Malawi.
NFRA recently released almost 10 000 metric tonnes out of which Admarc has only managed to collect less than 5 000 metric tonnes because it cannot afford to transport the maize at current charges.
The Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is said to be offering K35 per kilometre per metric tonne whereas transporters are demanding between K45 and K50 per kilometre per metric tonne.
While Admarc chief executive officer Jerry Jana dismissed reports of the disagreement over transport costs, Road Transporters Operators Association of Malawi (RTOAM) executive director Chrissie Flao confirmed the problem. She said so far, most transporters are not willing to deal with Admarc.
Said Flao: “At K35 per kilometre per metric tonne, a transporter cannot break even. The transporters are indeed finding it hard to work with Admarc. As an association, we are intending to pick it up with Admarc. They [Admarc] know the problem but we will be writing them just to make it official.”
She said transporters currently transporting Admarc maize are those on return trips from other contracts.
NFRA chief executive officer Nasimuko Saukira confirmed that after the initial 10 000 metric tonnes which Admarc depleted on January 24 2013, NFRA released another 10 000 metric tonnes of which Admarc has only collected almost 75 percent of the first 5 000 metric tonnes.
However, Saukira was optimistic that the maize constraint is closer to being over saying that March was the only difficult month so far.
Jana could not be drawn to comment on the transportation cost constraints, arguing that Admarc’s major problem was that the maize situation in the country is “hand to mouth”.
But he confirmed that NFRA released another 10 000 metric tonnes for Admarc and that almost 6 000 metric tonnes have been collected.
With the current 10 kilogramme per person rationing of the grain, the 5 000 metric tonnes can reach out to almost half a million buyers. One of the transporter said if Admarc moved fast to distribute this maize, it could assist to contain the current rising maize prices and ease the panic on the availability of the staple.