Treasury has said it wants the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to start buying maize from smallholder growers early this year.
Over the past decade, Admarc has been slow to buy maize from smallholder growers, resulting in unscrupulous traders taking advantage of the situation to rip off growers.
But presenting the mid-year budget statement in Lilongwe on Friday, Finance Minister, Joseph Mwanamvekha, said funds are available for Admarc to go onto the market on time.
“Resources for maize purchase have been maintained at K10 billion of which K3.0 billion was spent during the first half. A total of K9.2 billion has been earmarked for maize purchase during the second half comprising K7.0 billion budget balance and K2.2 billion realised from Admarc maize sales. These funds, Madam Speaker, will be used to start early purchasing of maize from smallholder farmers.
“Going forward, government will promote structured markets through commodity exchanges, warehousing systems and establishment of cooperatives,” Mwanamvekha said.
He added that government through ministries responsible for Finance, Agriculture and Trade has put in place mechanisms to curb pilferage and illegal exportation of the country’s farm produce including maize and pulses.
Admarc has over the past years given a number of excuses for not buying maize from smallholder farmers on time.
Among others, the State-owned grain trader has been arguing that the moisture content in the grain is high in the months just after the harvest, making the grain hard to keep and weigh heavier than normal.
Admarc Chief Executive Officer, Felix Jumbe, was not immediately available for comment.
This year, Admarc was forced to buy the grain at prices as high as K310 per kilogramme as traders, who bought the commodity from the farmers, hoarded the maize to shore up prices.