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Parliamentary committee suspects lies in Mvac figures

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A special parliamentary committee on Zambia maize purchase inquiry has said there is high likelihood that the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report and Ministry of Agriculture’s crop estimates present figures that are not a true reflection on what is on ground.

Co-chairperson for the committee, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said it is now surprising that despite the apparent government’s failure to import the scheduled 400,000 metric tonnes of maize, people are still shunning the little maize that the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is keeping.

The contradictory figures from Admarc, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development indicate that Admarc has only managed to import slightly more than 4,000 metric tonnes from Zambia out of the big figure of 400,000 metric tones it intended to procure.

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Apart from planned importation of 100,000 metric tonnes from Zambia, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda also told Parliament that government had planned to import maize from Romania.

Romania was chosen after failure to clinch deals with other likely sources such as Brazil, Mexico and Ukraine.

Malunga said when they asked Secretary for Agriculture, Erica Maganga, the reasons behind people’s shunning of Admarc maize, she said there could be other sources of maize in the country.

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Malunga said if the ministry is insisting that there may be other sources of maize within the country then the situation raises questions as to why Admarc opted to source maize from other countries and not within the country.

Some quarters feel Admarc is getting fewer customers because the maize price for other sellers is cheaper if compared to what the public grain marketer is offering.

“I think there is complete distortion of information because it looks like the numbers that the Ministry of Agriculture was relying on are actually coming from another entity which is Mvac. And she [Maganga] clearly said at different meetings that, probably, they are not happy with Mvac and therefore they rely on their own crop estimates which do not work in this case.

“So, answering on why people are not buying maize from Admarc, she probably said there are probably a lot of sources that people are getting. We are saying their price is probably high and they keep on saying probably there are a lot of sources. Then we are saying why did we go to Zambia and why did you have to look for maize elsewhere when we had a lot of maize in this country,” Malunga said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Second Round Agriculture Production Estimate Survey showed that the country produced 2,431,313 metric tonnes of maize in 2015/16 agriculture season compared to 2,776, 277 metric tonnes during the previous agriculture season.

The Mvac forecast for the April 2016 to March 2017 consumption period, indicated that about 6.7 million people would not be able to meet their annual food requirement.

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