CAMA likens the 10,000 metric tonnes rotten maize as equivalent to genocide 

Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) Executive Director John Kapito says they are shocked to hear that “Government has lost 10,000 metric tonnes which has become rotten in ADMARC warehouses”.

He further said “this is happening at a time when Malawians are faced with hunger and high cost of living”, saying “consumers are currently paying one of the highest prices for maize which is selling approximately at K35,000 to K40,000 per 50kg bag”.

John Kapito

“These high prices of maize on the market are as a result of manmade scarcities of maize on the market while Government was holding onto lots of stocks of maize.

“If the maize was released earlier it would have helped to stabilize the price of maize and therefore to be sold at affordable prices to many hungry Malawians. It is hard to understand why Government had to hold on to this maize up to its rotten status and subject consumers to hunger with these artificial man-made maize scarcities.

“Unfortunately, Government through ADMARC has released the maize into the market when market prices are already beyond the reach of many poor Malawians.”

Thus CAMA demands from the government to inform Malawians on who was responsible for the negligent poor handling of the rotten maize stocks in ADMARC and what disciplinary action has been taken against the culprits.

Also the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, whose chairperson Sameer Suleman revealed of the rotten maize, “should investigate and verify the exact quantities of the rotten maize and available good stocks”.

The Parliamentary Committee is being asked to recommend “the immediate release of good maize for the market, properly supervised to avoid vendors taking advantage of this maize on the market”.

“More importantly, the Parliamentary Committee should assess if indeed there is such rotten stocks of maize or it could be that such rotten maize is not in any ADMARC market as claimed and whether appropriate storage measure were put in place.

“We are appealing to the Ministry of Agriculture to inform the country about current maize stock levels in ADMARC markets and those at National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and the condition under which such stocks are being held.

“We are, meanwhile, demanding Government to produce a speedy report on the disciplinary action taken against those that were responsible for the poor handling of this rotten maize.

“As a country, we cannot continue with this wastage of our staple food at the hands of incompetent officials paid by tax payers. It is disheartening that poor consumers have to go hungry and pay dearly for such immoral negligence by few individuals entrusted with the safe keeping of our maize for National Food Security.

“It is about time that such repeated behaviors by ADMARC officials be punished severely for the good of consumers and the future of this country,” Kapito concluded.

MP Sameer Suleman revealed the stunning news of the rotten maize in Parliament on Thursday last week, alleging that some politicians connived to sale the said tonnage of maize which Government stated had gone bad.

Suleman requested Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara to empower the Committee to conduct an inquiry into the matter, adding that the politicians sold the Maize at K800 per kilogram after buying from ADMARC at K300/kg.

He had alleged that the maize was exported to Kenya after it was sold through politicians to local companies but Minister of Agriculture, Sam Kawale denied the allegations as false, arguing that is is only not fit for human consumption.

He said in the august House on Tuesday this week that the said maize has just been fumigated while another portion is yet to undergo fumigation, hence not fit for consumption.

He also reported of a payment of a loan by the World Bank to banks that ADMARC owed and were using the maize as collateral and that one of the loan repayment conditions was that only maize fit for human consumption should be taken out and be put in the strategic grain reserve and the remaining must undergo further assessment.

It is reported that the World Bank engaged a company to conduct  the assessment, because in October last year it was found that some of the maize was not yet fumigated and another chunk had just been fumigated.

Kawale told the National Assembly that they are yet to get a report whether the remaining 10,000 metric tons has been certified for human consumption.

“What I said was that the maize was not fit for consumption, not rotten and I was very careful with my choice of words — ‘not fit for human consumption’ because it was fumigated,” Kawale said.

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