NFRA maize goes bad at Admarc
The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) Thursday said some of the maize that was kept at Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) depots has gone bad.
NFRA Board Chairperson Dennis Kalekeni said NFRA will not be able to collect the whole tonnage because some of the maize has been attacked by weevils.
Kalekeni, who appeared before the Agriculture Committee of Parliament, did not disclose the quantity of maize that has been damaged but was quick to say that people should not panic.
“It is a smaller tonnage of maize because the larger part of what Admarc was keeping is already with NFRA. So, we are not very worried. Of course, we know that this is meant for people and we should ensure that the reserves are maintained,” he said.
Kalekeni blamed the decision on government and Parliament, which allowed Admarc to buy maize on its behalf.
“We are requesting the government and Parliament to consider separating the powers and duties of NFRA and Admarc because these things wouldn’t have been there if NFRA procured maize on its own,” he said.
Reports indicate that weevils have destroyed 587 bags at Ng’onga Depot in Rumphi District. Maize at three depots in Mzimba District has also been destroyed by the pests.
The board chair also reported that despite having maize in some depots like Ntchenachena, Engutwini and Ng’onga, community members and traditional leaders have not been allowing the agency to continue collecting maize from the depots, demanding, instead, that the maize be sold within the communities.
“What we have done is to make sure that when Dodma [Department of Disaster Management Affairs] comes to withdraw maize from us, they should collect that maize and distribute it where it is needed,” he said.
Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Chairperson Sameer Suleman said the committee had forewarned that the maize would not be safe in Admarc’s custody but that the authorities were slow to act.
Currently, NFRA has 108,000 metric tonnes of maize, with a balance of K4 billion to procure more tonnage of maize.