K3 billion Admarc maize rotten

Sam Kawale

Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale has disclosed that 10,000 metric tonnes (mt) of maize in the custody of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) have gone bad.

With government having pegged Admarc’s maize at K300 per kilogramme (kg), the 10,000mt would rake in K3 billion if sold on the local market.

Kawale’s revelation has come less than a month after the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) disclosed that some of its maize, which was in Admarc’s custody, had been attacked by weevils.


The 10,000mt of the staple grain that have gone bad are part of the 100,000mt that Admarc used as collateral for obtaining loans from commercial banks and the Export Development Fund.

Kawale told Parliament yesterday that the quantity has been declared not fit for human consumption.

The minister said, with support from development partners, government managed to buy the healthy maize off and moved it to the Strategic Grain Reserves where Admarc and the Department of Disaster Management Affairs can access it for other purposes.


“The 10,000mt are still with NBS Bank. We are going to decide on what to do. That maize has not left Admarc warehouses; it will not even be sold to private traders for human consumption,” Kawale said.

He was responding to questions from members of Parliament (MPs) such as Werani Chilenga of Chitipa South, who took the government to task for failing to open Admarc markets by December last year as earlier announced.

Kawale said of the 100,000mt, 60,000mt were for NBS Bank and that an independent quality assessment found that 10,000mt were discoloured.

He said such maize is normally sold out for animal feed as a way of recovering part of the funds that could have been realised on the regular market.

The minister also said government has embarked on the process of shifting maize to Admarc markets, where it will be sold.

Chairperson for the Agriculture Committee of Parliament Sameer Suleman suspects foul play in the matter, alleging that some people might be cashing in on the declared rotten maize.

“I stood here [in Parliament] some months ago and told them to open Admarc warehouses, because maize was getting rotten, to allow moisture to get out.

“They did not take it seriously. If we had put this maize on the market, no one could have been buying maize from vendors at K40,000 per 50kg bag. I have a feeling that someone is selling this maize at a government price in the book but is making profits from the sales,” Suleman said.

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace National Coordinator Boniface Chibwana has described as unfortunate “poor economic and commercial decisions by Admarc that have turned the grain market into a mess”.

Chibwana called on authorities to immediately revisit the role of the State-owned grain trader in light of its continuous borrowing to bankroll its operations.

“That the maize has gone bad when millions of people are starving in the country is not only morally insensitive but also a serious abrogation of duty by the government as a primary duty-bearer to protect Malawians’ right to food,” he said.

Chibwana stressed that the latest revelation should act as a wake-up call that Admarc needs a new model that emphasises a commercial aspect, with its social role being carefully considered.

While NFRA Board Chairperson Denis Kalekeni did not come out clear on how much of the agency’s maize went bad, reports indicate that weevils destroyed 587 50kg bags which were being kept in Rumphi and Mzimba districts.

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