Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumw, has disclosed that Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) will this year commence the buying of produce from farmers early next month, April, much earlier than it has always done in the past.
The minister made this revelation on Thursday, March 13, at Thembe School in T/A Mabuka’s area when he interacted with tens of members of farmer cooperatives in Mulanje Bale constituency.
Nankhumwa said this was a deliberate policy by government to protect famers from unscrupulous businessmen who purchase produce, particularly the staple, maize, from farmers soon after harvesting often as low prices with the objective of hording them to sell at a higher price during the lean season.
“This is a policy that we will be implementing as government to respond to the suffering of so many farmers across the country. We are aware that there are a lot of unscrupulous traders who are consistently fleecing farmers out of their hard earned toil for what can only be described as a pittance.
“As government, we are saying this must come to a stop because we want farmers to improve their livelihoods through getting better prices at ADMARC,” said Nankhumwa.
He added that traders and middlemen have the habit of buying produce from farmers soon after harvest because they know it is the time when farmers are smarting from the lean and hunger season and, therefore, vulnerable to exploitation.
Nankhumwa, who is also governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President for Southern Region, Leader of Government Business in Parliament and Member of Parliament (MP) for Mulanje Central, said this is the time they can accept to offer their produce at low prices because they are under the false impression that they have plenty only to realize too late that they have been duped.
“My appeal to you is to be patient and not to rush for quick cash by selling your produce to these middlemen. ADMARC will be opening its doors next month, April, and that is where you can sell your produce for better prices to improve your families.
“Apart from this, ADMARC is also the only place where you will be assured of purchasing maize and other crops at reasonably cheap prices during the lean season unlike when you buy from the middlemen, who will probably be nowhere to be seen during your moment of need. I therefore appeal to you to wait for ADMARC to open,” said Nankhumwa
The farmers had written and invited the Nankhumwa to come and appreciate their varied challenges, especially in fish; pigeon peas farming and animal husbandry. The minister toured fish dams and also appreciated the richness of the catchment area in the cultivation of other crops such as sweet potatoes and cassava.
Said the minister: “Every time I pass through these areas, I don’t fail to appreciate how blessed you are in terms of having such good alluvial soil where you can cultivate so many varieties for crops. This is also the reason why I will not miss an opportunity to encourage you to find different ways of improving agriculture in order to maximize the potential of this area to produce and sell for commercial purposes and also for food sufficiency at household.”
Nankhumwa pledged that he would lobby government to construct a tarmac road from Nanthombozi to Luchenza to ensure that farmers have easy access to markets. He also pledged that he would lobby for an expedited electrification of the area to create more business opportunities for the people.
During the tour, Nankhumwa was accompanied by DPP MP for the area, Victor Musowa, high-level officials from the ministry’s headquarters in Lilongwe, Blantyre Agricultural Development Division (ADD) and Mulanje Rural Development Programme (RDP) as well as other DPP and UDF officials.
There were about 80 village chiefs who attended the function, who included Nyezelela, Sakhama, Amulula, Machokola, Kampala and Amulikha, among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :