Admarc allocated K4 billion for maize
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe Thursday disclosed that government has committed K4 billion to the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) for the purchase of maize.
Gondwe said he disclosed this following Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera’s response to President Peter Mutharika’s State of the Nation Address where he said those in authority are sleeping on the wheel in so far as issues of the looming hunger are concerned.
Said Chakwera in his response: “The crop estimates for the calendar year indicate a shortfall and no serious thought and plan has been put forward to mitigate and avoid the 2002 situation. The situation at the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has been undermined.”
He added: “We strongly recommend the refocusing of programmes to enable farmers produce beyond food security but also income and forex security. Even as we speak, government says it is not ready with final crop estimates when we are almost half way through the year.”
Gondwe said the K4 billion which has been set aside for Admarc to purchase the maize will be closely monitored so that government is satisfied with the progress being made.
“Yesterday, we heard a very long speech that we are late in empowering Admarc to start buying maize and we have been constrained to announce that there is money for the same. After every K1 billion is spent, we will be asking for details so we follow everything,” said Gondwe.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza said he was supposed to make a Ministerial Statement yesterday which would tackle the issue of Admarc being empowered to purchase maize but he “was omitted from the day’s Order Paper”.
Chairperson of the Agriculture Committee of Parliament Felix Jumbe said it is important for government to provide details regarding how the purchase is going to be handled.
“We need to be sure where the maize is going to be purchased from: whether it is from within the country or from abroad. Prices need to be known so that issues of accountability are also considered,” said Jumbe.
He added: “The president also talked about government allocating K8 billion in the 2015/16 budget for restocking the Strategic Grain Reserves. It is important that we should be clear whether the money is just about restocking or adding on top of the deficit which the harvest drop has created.”
Meanwhile, opposition MPs have demanded more details on the K4 billion given to Admarc and what initiatives government has put in place to ensure the funds are not abused.
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