Nsanje West Constituency Member of Parliament, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, who is also Chairperson of the Agriculture Committee of Parliament, has argued that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) should desist from purchasing maize.
He accused NFRA of being influenced by politicians.
In the budget statement delivered in Parliament on Friday, Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister, Goodall Gondwe, indicated that, among other initiatives, the government has set aside funds which NFRA would use to purchase maize in a bid to deal with the problem of looming hunger.
But Chidanti-Malunga said he had reservations on the arrangement.
“I belong to a committee on agriculture and we made our assessment of the performance of NFRA in maize purchasing. We found that some people were given special attention and, as such, the institution should not be given the task,” Chidanti-Malunga said.
The legislator suggested that other traders should, instead, be given the task of buying the grain.
“We think that if we allow these institutions to buy the maize, the process will be smooth; without any frustrations,” he said.
On the other hand, Chidanti- Malunga urged the government to do a crop reassessment so that a true picture of this year’s harvest is known.
He said, from experience, it is clear that crop estimates do not reflect the situation on the ground.
“We have institutions such as the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee which said in 2015 that maize would be enough. It later transpired that that was not a true picture.
“Later in 2016, the country made a decision to buy maize from Zambia, only to discover that we had been given inaccurate figures and we were not supposed to buy the maize,” Chidanti-Malunga said.
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