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Government warns Admarc on maize exports

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Rhino Chiphiko

The Ministry of Agriculture has cautioned the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) against exporting 500,000 metric tonnes (mt) of maize as the picture for the next growing season remains hazy.

Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe issued the warning in Lilongwe Monday, when he briefed reporters on the food security situation in the country.

According to Lowe, the government has advised Admarc to wait until sometime in February, when a much clearer picture of this growing season’s output will be ascertained.

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“Admarc has found a market in the region to export about 500,000 metric tonnes but we have advised them to exercise caution and hold on a bit until a clear picture of the next growing season’s output is established,” Lowe said.

On food availability in the country, Lowe said an updated National Food Balance Sheet shows that, as of December 31 2021, the country had a total supply of 1,693,997mt of food, with the total maize requirement for the three months projected at 861,868mt.

“Therefore, this leaves us with a total domestic cereal surplus of 915 998mt. Of this projected surplus, about 767,129mt is maize as of 31st December 2021. I further wish to make it clear to the general public that the reported maize surplus is not stock under the custody of government only; it also comprises stocks held by stakeholders including farmers and private traders.

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“Out of this estimated maize surplus, official maize stocks held by government institutions, namely the National Food Reserve Agency and Admarc Limited, stood at 265,253mt,” Lowe said.

Admarc bought the maize using K12 billion sourced from the government as well as funds amounting to K40 billion borrowed from commercial banks.

Admarc General Manager Rhino Chiphiko said, despite the caution from Capital Hill, his institution would still be able to make money to pay back the loans through the sale of crops such as cotton, which are also on high demand.

“Again it should be known that the loan will not be squared in a year; as such, we still have time to pay the money,” Chiphiko said.

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