THE Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is struggling to repay commercial banks K22.4 billion it used to purchase about 100 000 metric tonnes of maize from the local market last year.
Due to the development, the grain marketer has this year said it will take its time before going on the market to buy maize from farmers saying it still has 90, 000 metric tonnes of maize in its reserves. “We will be lying to you if we say that we will go on the market anytime soon.
We have a lot of maize in our warehouses but the problem which we have is that it was bought with borrowed money and for us to go back on the market; we need to repay the loan first.
“With this development we are not sure if we will go on the market to buy produce from farmers,” Admarc Board Chairperson James Masumbu said in an interview.
The government allowed Admarc to borrow from the commercial banks last year to boast its visibility and competitiveness on the market. The parastatal was last year heavily criticised when it raised price of maize to K250 per kilogramme, translating to K12,500 per 50kilogramme bag.
Because of the price people opted to buy maize from private traders a thing which left Admarc looking for buyers. Masumbu disclosed that the Admarc Board met two weeks ago and came up with the resolution to delay purchasing the staple grain.
“Eventually, we will have to buy because we have that responsibility. One of the big issues on the agenda was how we will handle maize we bought last year and how we will repay the loan,” Masumbu said.
While launching Malawi Rural Electrification Programme phase 8 in Mulanje recently, President Peter Mutharika asked local farmers to hold on to their maize and sell to Admarc at an appropriate time.
“Don’t sell maize to vendors. Wait for Admarc to start buying at a good price. It doesn’t matter whether there is pressure from anywhere. It’s our maize and we are not going to sell it just like that.
“I don’t want what happened at one time to happen again. We once rushed to sell our maize to Kenya only to face hunger and start buying maize from Kenya again,” Mutharika said.
Masumbu could not however disclose what the board had agreed on how Admarc will settle its loans with banks.