Frustrated with Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc)’s inefficiency, vendors and farmers in Chitipa District and parts of Karonga are illegally exporting maize to Tanzania and Zambia, The Daily Times has established.
Random interviews we have conducted indicate that the development has come about because Admarc officials stopped buying maize in the district weeks ago.
In reaction, we have established, vendors and farmers are using undesignated routes to take the grain across the border despite the prices in the said countries being almost similar to those in Malawi.
One of the farmers in the district, Mercy Mughogho from Kaseka Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwaulambia, gave a picture of what is triggering the smuggling.
She said she took 200 bags of maize to Chitipa Admarc two weeks ago but the grain marketer was yet to buy it.
“We have been told that we have to wait for money from Admarc head office and that is why you have seen that we are selling some bags to vendors who are taking it across the border because we are tired of waiting,” Mughogho said.
Goston Mlenga, from Isaac village, also under T/A Mwaulambia, said if push comes to shove, he will also turn to markets in Tanzania and Zambia.
Eric Gumbo, another farmer in the area, said large quantities of maize were crossing the borders to Zambia and Tanzania, with traders attributing the development to the unreliability of Admarc markets.
Admarc Board Chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi said he was not aware that maize was being exported illegally.
He, however, admitted that Admarc was moving at a snail’s pace in buying maize in Chitipa because of storage challenges.
“We realised that we have many bags of maize at our Admarc station in Chitipa; so, we stopped buying the grain so that we can clear the bags by transferring them to our main storage facilities.
“We also release money to our markets on weekly basis for security purposes. Therefore, that may be the reason why we have this situation in Chitipa,” Kusamba Dzonzi said.
Agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said he was not surprised that maize was being illegally exported.
“The farmers and vendors want money and that is why they are exporting the maize. However, we are saying there must be proper ways of exporting the maize; otherwise, we, as a country, are losing out,” Mvula said.
Chitipa Police Station spokesperson Gladwell Simwaka said they were conducting patrols along the border.
Admarc opened its maize buying season early last month.