Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda, said on Wednesday that government is happy that maize price in Admarc markets is high and that Malawians are shunning the selling points.
Chaponda said this at a news conference in Lilongwe when he gave the food situation in Malawi report.
Maize is selling at K12, 500 per 50 kilogramme bag in Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) markets while some private traders are selling it at K11,500.
Since sales of maize started in Admarc markets early this month, only 409 metric tonnes have been bought out of 45, 768 metric tonnes in the Southern Region while in the Central Region only 55 metric tonnes out of 46,311 have been sold and 122 metric tonnes out of 15, 544 sold in the Northern Region.
Asked to explain how government takes it that Admarc markets are being shunned with people preferring to buy from private traders because Admarc prices are higher than private traders’, Chaponda said the shunning was a positive development.
“That’s exactly what we wanted. That is competition. That is positive development for me. Admarc has gone to the bank and borrowed K26 billion and it will have to pay back with interests. If Admarc factored other logistics into the price, it would have gone up to K312 per kg,” Chaponda said.
Chaponda added: “The private traders will exhaust their stocks and the people will buy from Admarc. I don’t think the traders have enough stocks.”
Chaponda admitted that the number of Malawians in need of humanitarian aid has risen from 6.5 million to 6.7 million. He said government will handle the additional number without panic.
Admarc Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mulumbe, also justified the high price arguing Admarc is a commercial entity which does not receive subvention from government.
“Government only gives a guarantee to Admarc,” he said.
He added: “The [high] price has brought sanity on the market. People are buying the maize freely. There are no queues. The queues that you used to see last year were for vendors.”
So far Admarc has bought 105,000 metric tonnes locally and another 100,000 metric tonnes from Romania according to Chaponda. He said government’s plan is to stock Admarc with 300 000 metric tonnes.
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