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Record maize prices anger consumers

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The Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has expressed anger over the continued rise in the price of the country’s staple food, maize.

Cama’s outrage comes at a time when maize prices continue to skyrocket, with private traders selling a 50 kg bag as high as K15,000.

In a statement at the weekend, Cama Executive Director John Kapito said the current shortage and higher prices of maize on the market has contributed to the high cost of living among Malawians.

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Kapito described the current situation as “the worst ever recorded scarcity of maize and higher prices since Malawi embraced the subsidized agricultural farm input production of maize”.

“What is shocking, though, is the failure by the government to have no strategies to deal with the current hunger crisis affecting many Malawians.

“The government is clueless, reactive and helpless to find solutions that will address the current food shortages and higher prices of maize,” said Kapito.

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The Cama chief said consumers have noted with concern contradicting and abusive statements from government justifying and clarifying the hunger situation.

According to Kapito, some ministers have been quoted requesting Malawians to have a single meal a day while others have ridiculed the health institutions / hospitals to go into maize production outside their core mandate.

“We are also shocked that government continues with its message that no one will die of hunger when information out there indicates that most Malawians are now dying of hunger.

“We are questioning the continued use of Admarc markets, which have proved for years to be ineffective and corrupt in the supply and distribution of maize to the general public,” said Kapito.

The consumer rights watchdog has since recommended that government must release enough stocks of maize onto the market with immediate effect.

It has further said government must identify other strategic distribution channels other than Admarc for the selling of maize with immediate effect.

“Force all private traders hoarding maize to release such maize onto the market within seven days and that the maize must be sold at government recommended prices.

“Government must be proactive and sensitive, and should not politicize the current hunger crisis facing the country where the most vulnerable are women and children,” said Kapito.

Last week, President Peter Mutharika warned Admarc officials against conniving with unscrupulous traders to divert maize meant for poor Malawians.

While maize is selling at K15,000 per 50 kg bag, Admarc is selling the commodity at K5,500 per bag, although its rationing it in 20 kgs.

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