Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe has conceded that vendors and firms are still duping some farmers, buying commodities such as maize at prices lower than the government set minimum price.
Lowe has since issued a fresh warning to perpetrators.
Speaking on the sidelines after opening Mzuzu Auction Floors on Monday, Lowe singled out some companies processing animal feed who, he said, are buying maize from farmers below the minimum K150 price per kilogramme (kg).
He said some companies agree with some indigenous Malawians and vendors to be buying maize in rural areas at as low as K70 per kg to sell to chicken feed processing firms at K120 per kg.
He said such firms also buy maize before Agricultural Development and Marketing Corperation (Admarc) to maximise profit margin.
“We have information that some processors that are producing animal feed have engaged indigenous Malawians. They are offering them money to buy maize in villages at lower prices between K70 and K80 per kg so that they can profit after selling to these financiers at K120 per kg.
“I am warning them, we will find them and we will arrest them. I am very serious on that because we are saying a farmer should sell their produce not below the minimum prices set,” Lowe said.
Lowe has since asked tobacco buyers not to buy below the minimum price of 90 cents, saying that would not be accepted.
Lowe said the buyers should consider the effort of farmers.
Meanwhile, Admarc Chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi said the State-run grain trader has commenced buying produce starting with the Southern Region.
He said Admarc will start buying in some areas of the Central Region in the coming weeks.
Malawi is an agrarian economy, with about 80 percent of the population living in rural areas.
For decades, agriculture has been standing out as the single largest sector in the national economy.
It is centred upon the production, consumption and sale of agricultural commodities, largely in raw form.
Most farmers are subsistent, growing only food crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families.
Maize and tobacco are, respectively, Malawi’s staple and top export crops, followed by tea, sugar, cotton, rice and pulses.