The Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) has warned the Parliamentary Cluster of Agriculture, Natural Resources Climate Change against pushing for the allocation of K95 billion to the cash-strapped Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC).
The network argues that the corporation does not have the capacity to manage the resources as evidenced by its inability to manage maize it purchased in 2020.
Apparently, the maize ADMARC bought last year ended up rotting in warehouses, leaving the corporation in a worse off position in view of the loan that was used to procure that maize.
In an interview with Nyasa Times on Monday, CISANET national director Pamela Kuwali said they are concerned with the inefficiencies and wastefulness that has characterised the operations of ADMARC over the years as well as the bailouts for the corporation, which have placed a huge fiscal burden on public resources.
“In this regard, CISANET does not agree with the current push by the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Climate Change Cluster to provide MK 95 billion to ADMARC for purchase of maize. We call for the allocation of resource to ADMARC that are commensurate with the required quantities commodities to be purchased,” said Kuwali.
She said although CISANET appreciates the urgent need for state intervention on agricultural markets, the network emphasizes that an efficient ADMARC is required and must be treated as a matter of priority.
Kuwali stated that allocating huge amount of resources to ADMARC in its current state is risky.
“CISANET therefore recommends prudence on the part of the government by only allocating enough resources to cover for food availability for households that will depend on markets in 2021/2022. In view of the surplus this year, that is likely to be a much lower amount than the current figure supported by the Parliamentary cluster. Nevertheless, CISANET still notes the huge need for markets for smallholder farmers for this year. The Network therefore recommends alternative approaches to public maize procurement other than through ADMARC. One possible alternative would be through agreements with existing farmer groups or organizations who are already on the ground and are working with farmers,” she emphasized.
However, Kuwalli appreciated that the government has earmarked ADMARC to undergo reforms to improve its operations and financial performance, which also led to the development of its five-year strategic plan.
“We acknowledge that a functional review of ADMARC was undertaken in 2018, suffice to say at that time, this was more in response to donor pressure than political will. CISANET would like to ask the government to act swiftly on a robust plan to ensure that ADMARC effectively performs its market function. An important aspect will be addressing political and economy issues that have choked the operations of the corporation historically. ADMARC needs to operate independently, free from political interference, fraud and corruption for the benefit of smallholder farmers, vulnerable Malawian households and the Malawi economy at large,” said Kuwali.