Minister confesses ADMARC has no maize

Malawi’s Local Government and Rural Development Minister Henry Mussa admitted Tuesday that its grain marketor, ADMARC, has no maize to sell the poor populace.

His confession comes a few days after Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Kingsley Namakhwa publicly told the nation ADMARC was stocking enough of the staple grain to feed the nation until the next harvest.

There has been growing reports that the country silos were running low on maize hence ADMARC’s move to ration the selling of maize from 50kg per customer to 25kg.

Mussa: No grain at ADMARC

But speaking during the elevation of Patrick Chiwanda from Chief Tsabango to Senior Chief, Mussa pleaded with President Bingu wa Mutharika to “push for maize availability from the silos to ADMARC.”

The minister told Mutharika and by default Malawians that people had money in the villages but they cannot buy the staple food because it is not there.

Bwana [boss], people want maize in ADMARC, there is money but no maize to buy,” Mussa told Mutharika.

Presidential assurance

And during his speech, Mutharika assured Mussa that “we will ensure that ADMARC has enough stocks for people to buy. However, the president blamed the private traders of creating the problem because, he claimed they buy maize from ADMARC in bulks and resell across the border.

“These people line up, buy the maize and sell outside the country leaving our people without food,” bemoaned Mutharika.

He called upon the law enforcers and chiefs to ensure that the tendency is stopped and culprits are brought to book.

The Malawi leader also pleaded with the people not to sell their remaining maize until the next harvest advising them that the rains have proved to be erratic and there could be disaster.

“I am urging you to take care of your maize, do not sell… Of course it is your maize and I cannot control you what to do with it,” stated Mutharika.

Majority of Malawians who still live below than a dollar a day depend on ADMARC for maize because it is relatively cheaper than the private traders.

Some two weeks ago, barely few months after announcing the rationing programme, the government grain reserve and marketing agency hiked the price by 50 percent from K2000 ($12) to K3000 ($18) per 50 kg bag making it more difficult for poor Malawians to have access to a decent staple food.

And just after the increase, vendors in the country’s major cities and towns also hiked their prices which is now selling between K3250 and K5,000 per 50kg bag depending on the area.

But government, through Namakhwa irrationally defended the price hike claiming the move would save the poor from exploitation of parallel market traders.

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