Vulnerable women and children are contributing to the worsening food crisis by collaborating with vendors to buy maize from Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) markets for resale at exorbitant prices.
This has been revealed in a survey Non-governmental Organisation Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) conducted across the country.
NGO-GCN chairperson Emma Kaliya told a panel discussion the organisation held in Lilongwe that the snap survey established that vendors deploy scores of vulnerable and desperate women and children to buy the rationed maize from Admarc markets for them to resell at exorbitant prices.
She said: “They [vendors] deploy many women and children whom they pay between K300 and K500 each per purchase. We conducted our survey nationwide although I should emphasise that this practice is particularly rampant in Balaka and Mulanje districts.”
NGO-GCN Permanent Committee on Agriculture and Economic Empowerment chairperson Hellen Chasowa said some Admarc officials have links with vendors in committing the vice.
She said after buying the maize, a 50-kilogramme bag from Admarc at K5 500 (about $7), the vendors resell at K14 000 (about $19) or higher depending on demand and location.
This means the vendors make K8 500 (about $12) profit per bag.
Said Chasowa: “This practice is disadvantaging the elderly, women with disabilities and child-headed families because they do not have such money to buy maize from vendors.”
Admarc regional manager for the Centre Joe Masamba said the vendors have remained one of their major impediments towards efforts to meet food requirements of deserving Malawians. n