Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza has been called to abandon his “stubborn refusal” to take advice from Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Felix Jumbe, said Chiyembekeza is displaying a “stubborn” altitude not to take advise form his committee.
“If only the Ministry of Agriculture had adopted the recommendations that our committee made in November 2015, we would not have been in this pathetic situation where people are being forced to eat roots. There would not have been such queues in empty Admarc markets,” said Jumbe.
He said his committee recommended that government should put down a detailed logistical plan on where it would buy the maize and how the distribution would be handled including realistic time frames.
“But none of this was done as the minister [Chiyembekeza] said he knew what to do hence we are now dancing to the hunger tune. Unfortunately, it is the poor person who is suffering the consequences most,” he said.
Chiyembekeza is also on record to have called on people in the country to reduce food wastes and take lesser meals during the lean period.
“If you have food at home and you normally eat three meals a day please adjust yourselves to one and half meals. This is the only coping mechanism that can work in the current situation,” said Chiyembekeza.
Meanwhile, press reports indicate that a random check in Admarc markets around Blantyre city on Saturday ound that maize was trickling into the markets but was being swallowed almost immediately by ever-increasing demand from buyers.
Nation on Sunday reports that there was calm at Ndirande Admarc Depot where 100 bags of maize were being off loaded around 11 am despite the presence of a huge crowd of people.
National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) boss Nasinuku Saukila admitted that maize procurement experienced serious hiccups this year.
‘‘Maize prices have been the highest when you look at the trend in the last three years. The consequence was that maize purchased from the resource envelope was hugely reduced. Maize sellers kept abandoning signed maize supply contracts in anticipation of making a killing out of their product. That explains why maize is still being procured during this lean period. Government is fulfilling its role of ensuring that the people should be fed until they harvest their crop,” Saukila was quoted saying.
Maize production this year is expected to drop further by 2 percent from last year’s production, according to the first round of crop estimates.
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