Some vendors continue to dupe farmers in some parts of the country where they are buying maize at as low as K70 per kilogramme (kg), which is 53 percent below the government-set minimum price, the Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum) has said.
The growers’ representative body feels this is retrogressive, saying farmers would not make the most of their toil if it were not addressed.
Fum President Frighton Njolomole has since called on the government to take quick action to protect the farmers.
Njolomole said some big registered companies are using the vendors to buy the commodity.
“If they [the ministry] have decided to do something, please let them do it in a hurry because people are being exploited,” said Njolomole.
He urged the farmers to wait until the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation starts buying the commodity than sell it at low prices.
Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said the ministry had received reports that some local companies were using vendors to buy maize below the government-set minimum price.
“Some of the tips which we got are from farmers who are saying there are some big companies that have been buying maize at as low as K100 per kg,” Lungu said.
He said the ministry would conduct surprise inspections to get to the bottom of the matter.
In April this year, the government announced the 2020/21 agricultural season farm gate prices; maize was set at K150 per kg, translating to K7, 500 per 50kg bag.
Price for shelled groundnuts was set at K480, polished rice at K600, Soya beans K320, pure beans at K510, paprika at K830, cotton at K320 while chilies’ price was set at K770.
Malawi is an agrarian economy, with about 80 percent of the population living in rural areas.
Maize and tobacco are, respectively, Malawi’s staple and top export crops, followed by tea, sugar, cotton, rice and pulses, as major cash crops.
Most farmers are subsistent, growing only food crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.