K5 billion for Admarc maize purchase
Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe has said the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has been given K5 billion to purchase maize from smallholder farmers in the country.
Gondwe told Parliament yesterday that the funds are adequate for the grain-trader to source more tonnes of maize.
“I am certain that resources at Admarc are quite adequate. We have informed them that when they think that the resources available to them are not enough, they should let us know quite early so that we should provide additional resources. We can’t provide an institution an amount of K10 billion at once,” he said
Gondwe said when there is a shortfall, Admarc can also borrow from commercial banks as it has been the tradition.
“When we are short of the funds, we will make sure that the doors are open for them to be funded. We know that it has some outstanding debts with some commercial banks, but we have means of ensuring that Admarc is fully funded,” he said
Admarc, in a statement released last week, said it will be buying maize at K170 per kilogramme.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Nsanje South West, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, who is also Chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, said the two ministries and Admarc officials were giving conflicting information on the capacity of the corporation to buy maize in the country.
“They told us that the resources in the budget are not going to them but to food reserve agency and, therefore, Admarc has to find a way of disposing of the maize that they bought from Zambia. Who should we believe?” he queried
MP for Dowa East, Richard Chimwendo Banda, queried government for deliberately exposing the farmers to unscrupulous vendors due to its failure to buy maize in time.
However, Gondwe said it is because the grain trader cannot buy maize at that early stage as the produce have high moisture content, a development that has proved difficult for Admarc to safely keep the maize
On the minimum price, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Aggrey Massi, said there is need for the lawmakers to educate farmers on the significance of selling their produce to Admarc markets.
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