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Admarc maize storage crisis

The grain trader runs out of space

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KUSAMBA DZONZI

State grain trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is struggling to store maize it has bought from farmers and traders, The Daily Times has established.

The corporation, which has been buying maize from farmers and traders in phases— depending on quantity of produce—plans to use K30 billion loaned from banks for purchasing maize.

Admarc Board Chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi told The Daily Times in an earlier interview that they had huge quantities of maize in depots, further indicating that discussions were underway with National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) officials to borrow one of the latter’s silos for the storage of grain.

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“We resolved to transfer all the maize from [depots] that are full to our warehouses, from where the surplus will be sent to NFRA.

We are discussing with them to lend us one silo to be dedicated to Admarc maize [storage],” Kusamba Dzonzi said..

When we contacted NFRA to learn about progress of their discussions with Admarc, acting chief executive officer Brenda Kayongo acknowledged receiving a letter from Admarc but said it would be premature to respond.

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But NFRA is yet to maintain its Mzuzu and Luchenza silos— which broke down in 2012.

This is happening at a time Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) has just given NFRA the go-ahead to award the contract to supply equipment for rehabilitation of the two silos to a successful bidder.

In an interview, NFRA Board Chairperson Denis Kalekeni said, after getting approval from PPDA, the agency sent the contract documents to Government Contracting Unit (GCU), which is yet to give them the go-ahead.

“On September 7 2021, we put in our local newspapers “Intention to Award Contract” [message] whose notice expired on September 21 as it is a 14-day notice,” Kalekeni said.

Once GCU approves, the contract shall be sent to Ministry of Justice for vetting, which is the final stage.

The total budget for the renovation of the silos in Mzuzu and Luchenza is pegged at around K1 billion.

Earlier this month, vendors and some farmers in Chitipa District revealed that they were illegally exporting maize to Tanzania and Zambia, faulting Admarc’s delays in purchasing maize in large quantities for the development.

Meanwhile, the Admarc Board has directed that maize from Chitipa should be ferried to Chilumba Depot for provisional storage in order to create space at Chitipa Admarc Depot.

In the 2019-20 financial year, about 1,265.5 metric tonnes (mt) of maize went bad due to poor storage in Admarc reserves.

The maize was part of the 5 000mt bought between April and June 2020 using a K253.1 million loan obtained from local commercial banks.

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