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Admarc market entry ‘delay’ hurts farmers

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NKHONO-MVULA

The Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is yet to commence buying maize from some parts of the country, a situation agriculture commentators say will continue having a negative bearing on farmers.

Spot checks by Times Business in some districts, especially in the Southern and Central regions, revealed that the State-run grain buyer of last resort was yet to reach out to some markets and that vendors were taking advantage of the situation by buying the commodity below the government’s set minimum price.

In some parts of the country, some vendors were buying maize at as low as K70 per kilogramme (kg), which is 53 percent below the government-set minimum price.

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Responding to a written questionnaire last week, Admarc spokesperson Agness Chikoko-Ndovi said the corporation would have to wait for a few more weeks before it opens up operations in other regions.

“Admarc opened its market, buying various crops, on 11th May 2021 except for maize because the maize still had high moisture content of above 14 percent. Standard moisture for maize should be 13.5 percent. By end June, maize markets in the Southern Region were opened and, to date, we have bought about 2,000 metric tonnes of maize,

“We are to open maize markets in the Central and Northern regions in a few weeks. assessment report showed that, as of last week, moisture content was ranging from 14 to 15 percent. As you are aware, maize bought with high moisture content discolours,” Chikoko-Ndovi said.

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Recently, maize prices on the market have also been fluctuating below the minimum farmgate prices, with experts attributing it to Admarc’s delays to enter the market.

In a recent interview Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Grecian Lungu said once Admarc begins buying the maize crops then there will be enhanced competition on the market.

“We can attribute this [price fluctuations] to unavailability of Admarc on the market to buy this excess maize at the government set minimum farmgate price. Their availability on the market, both in Central and Northern Region, would see competition on the market and thereby fostering adherence to the minimum farmgate price,” Lungu said.

Local agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said, should Admarc finally come on the market, it will change everything for the better as Admarc remains a big player on the market

“If they start buying in huge numbers, then prices of maize will increase, benefitting maize sellers,” he said.

Agriculture productivity and commercialisation are among key pillars in the long term national development blueprint, the Malawi 2063.

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