Malawi could register more disturbing hunger scenarios this year as subsistence farmers in some part of the country have started selling their maize at incredibly lower prices as most ADMARC depots have no cash, Nyasa Times can reveal.
Government recently decreed that maize should be sold at a minimum price of K160 per kilogram for the 2015/2016 season, but visits to the districts of Chitipa and Karonga reveal that the produce is being bought at a price as little as K50/kg in some places and at K100/kg in others.
Group Village Headman Mwabulambo of Karonga confirmed the development to Nyasa Times, saying he has put some “restrictions in place” to save his subjects from a future ahead.
“What these vendors are doing is unfortunate. They want to become rich at the expense of poor farmers. They are buying the maize at as little as K50/kg yet they are selling the same at K700,” said Mwabulambo.
He said “I have ordered my subjects to stop selling maize to the vendors, and as I’m speaking they are not allowed to enter my territory.”
Senior Chief Wansambo also confirmed his subjects selling 20kgs of maize at K2000 in spite of the poor harvest.
In Chitipa, District Crop Officer Steven Nkhata said “despite most of the maize grain in the district having moisture content which is not recommended for harvesting, farmers are selling the commodity at K100 per kg.”
He however said “we advised farmers in the district to sell their farm produce to the Agricultural Development Marketing Corporations (ADMARC) depots where there’s a fair price.”
Nkhata revealed that most of the maize crops in Chitipa has moisture content of above 14 percent as farmers failed to plant their crops earlier due to inadequate rainfall.
ADMARC officials in the two districts who opted for anonymity, told Nyasa Times that the problem is being “proliferated” by lack of funds on the part of the corporation.
“On paper, all ADMARC depots are buying maize but the truth is that we are yet to receive the second funding for purchasing maize and to be frank, no ADMARC depot is buying maize currently,” one of them said.
Vendors in Karonga are selling a 50kg bag of maize at K8000 and a 20 litre pail of maize at K3200.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :