Mayhem on grain market

Farm gate prices ‘ignored’


Farmers have lamented low prices vendors are offering for agricultural commodities on the market, which they say are below the government’s set minimum price.

The farmers feel this would affect their revenue. They have since called for intervention from authorities.

Some weeks ago, the government announced farm gate prices for the 2023 season, with the minimum price for Malawi’s staple commodity, maize, pegged at K500 per kilogramme (kg).


The amount was an increase from the price that was set last year.

Minimum price for soya was set at K800 from K480 per kg in 2022 while polished rice will be sold at K1,000 per kg, with unpolished rice fetching a minimum of K500 per kg.

But our spot checks have revealed that vendors continue disregarding the farm gate prices.


In most parts of the Southern Region, for example, vendors are buying a kg of maize at K300 or K350.

The situation is similar in Central and Northern regions where, for instance, soya is being sold at around K400 or K500 per kg, almost half of the set price.

“I have sold almost five bags of maize at K350 per kg. We cannot do otherwise because that is the price that the vendors are insisting on,” White Afali, a farmer from Lwanje in Mulanje, said.

In an interview, Farmers Union of Malawi Chief Executive Officer Jacob Nyirongo blamed the vice on the government.

He said the government rushed to come up with the prices without proper consultations.

“Most farmers in the country sell their produce to small-scale traders. We have always said that when the government comes up with the farm gate prices, they should also ensure that Admarc markets are opened so that the farmers can take their products there.

But this is not the case as Admarc markets are not yet opened; so, the minimum farm gate price can definitely not be adhered to,” Nyirongo said.

President of Grain Traders Association Grace Mhango said this year’s farm gate prices are not practical because they are not making business sense.

“We suggested that the prices for commodities like soya be pegged at at least, K650 per kg but the government did not listen,” Mhango said.

She further said that this year’s farm gate prices can lead to a rise of prices of other commodities on the market.

Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale was not available for a comment.

But Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu said this year’s farm gate prices considered the cost of production.

“We should look at how much it costs a farmer to harvest a bag of maize or soya. The government has a mandate of protecting its farmers so that they benefit from their sweat. Let us not focus on the buying side but we should also consider the producers,” Kunkuyu said.

He, however, admitted that delay to open Admarc depots has partly contributed to price volatility.

The government allocated K12 billion to Admarc for maize purchase.

It also changed its financial year from June to April for, among other things, timely provision of resources for the purchase of agricultural inputs.

Police have recently been arresting small-scale traders for buying farm products against set farm gate prices.

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