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Committee wants Admarc revamped

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Poor performance of the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) over the years has been costing small scale farmers in profits.

Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Ulemu Chilapondwa said this when his committee and Ministry of Agriculture top officials visited farmers’ cooperatives in Dowa and Kasungu.

Chilapondwa said farmers all over the country lack reliable markets where they can sell their produce at a profit.

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He said farmers in Kasungu and Dowa, for example, have their maize from the last growing season and they have nowhere to sell at a profit.

“Here at Chilanga, farmers are just keeping their maize with nowhere to sell it. The National Food Reserve Agency [NFRA] told them to take their maize to the NFRA warehouses and this is too expensive for them. This is why we are saying we need to revive Admarc. We need to give Admarc all the support and resources to buy the farm produce right here in the village,” Chilapondwa said.

He added that as Parliament, they will ensure that Admarc is given enough money and on time.

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“What we need is to crack down on corruption at Admarc and revive the company so that it serves Malawians as it used to. As Members of Parliament, we will make sure Admarc is given enough money and we will also be providing checks and balances on its operations,” he said.

Speaking during the visit, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Erica Maganga said lack of reliable and profitable markets for farm produce discourages farmers from growing more.

She said this is the reason the ministry is encouraging farmers to be in cooperatives to increase their bargaining power.

“We set minimum prices to protect farmers from abuse. Sometimes this works but other times it doesn’t. You still find traders buying the farm produce at lower prices than the set minimum prices. We are only encouraging small-scale farmers to always come together and reject low prices for their produce,” Maganga said.

One of the farmers at Chilanga Farmers Trust Chris Chinkhombe said they lack proper markets for their produce. He also corroborated sentiments that most farmers still have unsold farm produce from the previous growing season.

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