The government Wednesday announced farm-gate prices for the 2022 season with minimum price for Malawi’s staple commodity, maize, set at K220 per kilogram (kg), up from K150 per Kilogram in 2021.
Agriculture stakeholders have since welcomed the price tags while calling on the government to go a mile in safeguarding farmers from middlemen who continually dupe them.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lilongwe Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture Robin Lowe said when coming up with the prices, an average markup of 30 percent to 2021 prices was factored in on top of production costs and market forces, among other things.
He said the government also worked at providing incentives to the growers through consultations and reading of price trends for the previous years.
Lowe then challenged that no unlicensed buyers should be allowed to buy produce from farmers, saying government through security agents will be on the ground to protect them.
“Buying agricultural produce without a licence and below the set minimum price is an offence and the law will take its course. Buyers of agricultural produce should not be allowed to buy produce from our smallholder farmers below the set minimum prices,” he said.
He then requested all district councils, local leaders and all security agencies in government to assist the Ministry of Agriculture to enforce the minimum prices.
Lowe said Soya beans, finger millet and pure beans should be sold at not less than K480 per kg, a rise for soya from K320 per kg, while pure beans have dropped from K510 per kg.
Asked if they are ready to go on the market and start buying produce General Manager for state-owned grain trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) Rhino Chiphiko said preparations are at an advanced stage.
“Right now Admarc is ready to start buying the crops especially cash crops like groundnuts and bean. We are preparing our warehouses and markets we have about 385 markets. We are buying poly sacks and ensuring that all the scales are assized,” Chiphiko explained.
He however said, Admarc will delay a bit in purchasing maize, saying they will start buying in May or June when the moisture content drops to about 30 percent or less.
But President for the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) Frighton Njolomole bemoaned Admarc’s delay to go on the market.
He said the delay gives vendors and other unscrupulous middle buyers an edge to exploit farmers, who he said fail to make profit from their hard work.
Njolomole further asked government to safeguard farmers and cautioned farmers to only deal with licensed traders.
“We are happy that the farm-gate prices have been announced in good time and the raise is giving hope, needless to say that last year people had bumper yields unlike this year. The best thing for us is for Admarc to go on the market much earlier than usual, Admarc should have dryers to deal with the issue of high moisture content,” he said.
Meanwhile, government has announced that it will be issuing licences to eligible traders through the Ministry of Agriculture, all the eight Agricultural Development Divisions and all District Councils.