The Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) needs at least K400 million to move maize from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration for sale to people that need it, officials have said.
This is happening at a time most Admarc depots are said to have no maize in stock.
Speaking when she engaged members of the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament Tuesday, Admarc Head of Human Resources and Administration Ethel Zilirakhasu said the money is needed as soon as possible to facilitate the process.
She said the grain trader does not have money to transport the commodity.
Zilirakhasu said Admarc has more maize stocks in the Northern Region than in other administrative regions, notably the Southern and Central regions.
“Admarc has maize in stock but we are challenged financially to transport the maize to areas where there is no maize.
“We already submitted our budget to the Ministry of Agriculture but we are just waiting for approval so that we can start ferrying the maize,” Zilirakhasu said.
She also bemoaned the tendency of transporters who, she claimed, are overcharging the institution to ferry maize.
Zilirakhasu said, initially, the corporation agreed with transporters to ferry maize at K90 per tonne per kilometre (km) but that the transporters are now demanding K145 per tonne per km.
“If the government is to approve our budget, the change in price will be sorted out but, as things stand, Admarc cannot manage to pay the transporters at the new rate,” she added.
Pac Chairperson for the day Nicholas Dausi said it was unfortunate that the government was delaying to approve money for Admarc when people are dying of hunger.
He said Admarc has depots all over the country but that there is no maize for people to buy the commodity.
“We want this issue to be sorted out. We need the government to clear all the mess that is at Admarc and let the entity go back to the Admarc it used to be for the benefit of poor Malawians,” Dausi said.
Tuesday, Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the maize export ban they imposed last year was still intact.
Early this month, International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri)’s Maize Market Report indicated that maize retail prices decreased by two percent in December 2022, despite market prices being higher than those in Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa.
The report indicated that 17 out of 26 Admarc markets were selling the commodity during the time Ifpri monitored activities.
According to the report, on average, maize was selling at a retail price of K471 per kg in the last week of December, two percent less than the previous month.
The report noted that the decline was mainly because Admarc depots started selling maize in most of the markets at lower prices.
Admarc began maize sales on December 1 2022, buying the commodity at K300 per kg, or K15,000 per 50 kg bag.
“In the same period, the average price of maize was lowest at Mchinji market (K406/kg) and was highest at Mwanza market (K529/kg),” it indicated.
Mangochi market recorded the highest decline (12 percent) in retail maize price between end November and end December last year.
On the other hand, Mzimba market recorded the highest increase in retail maize price of 12 percent.
Further, the report indicated that the average retail price of maize remains highest in the Southern Region, as most maize retailers incur additional transaction costs when purchasing maize from the Central Region.
In the month of December, the average retail price of maize was K445 per kg in the Northern Region, K435 per kg in the Central Region and K490 per kg in the Southern Region.
At regional level, according to the report, retail prices of maize were highest in Nairobi, Kenya, and lowest in Zambia at the end of December 2022.
“However, the retail prices of maize in some Malawian markets were higher than in Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa,” the report showed.
Speaking earlier this month, when Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale inspected fertiliser-selling points in Mzimba District, the minister indicated that the government was doing its best to ensure that maize is available across the country.
This was after Member of Parliament for Mzimba North East Catherine Gotani Hara asked the minister to make sure that maize is available at all times in all Admarc selling points.
Gotani Hara, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly, said maize that is being sold by vendors is expensive, such that most Malawians cannot afford it.