Member of Parliament for Nkhata Bay Central, Ralph Mhone has called for a legal backing of set minimum prices for farm produce to protect local farmers from exploitation.
Mhone made the call during his contribution to the Loan Authorisation Bill passed on Thursday which empowered government to borrow K69.4 billion from the International Development Association aimed at enhancing agricultural commercialization.
He cited plummeting maize prices as a clear example of exploitation of poor farmers by big businesses.
“Our farmers are struggling to sell their maize at the moment. Some business people are buying a kilogram of maize for as low as K130 which is against the set minimum price of K170.
“We need a law that can protect our farmers from such exploitation. There is also need to invest in market infrastructure to uplift our small- scale subsistence farmers.
“ADMARC, for example, has to be revamped so that the poor small-scale farmers should be rescued from this exploitation by providing them with attractive markets. I hope the loan will take care of that,” said Mhone.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe assured parliament that there were a number of measures put in place to ensure that the loan is put to good use in the agricultural commercialization process.
“We have a new audit office at the Ministry of Finance which will guard against abuses. Additionally, the bank will be scrutinising every disbursement to ensure the funds are channelled towards the intended purposes,” said Gondwe.
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