By: Happy Soko
Malawi’s ADMARC officials charging extra MK2, 500 on a bag of Maize
The Malawi food crisis raises the specter of a natural disaster surging over an unaware populace that is helpless in the face of massive destruction, putting millions of people at risk of hunger.
The current maize shortage has forced government to instructed ADMARC officials to sale net weight of 20kg to an individual at MK110 per kg. However The Malawi Star undercover investigations have revealed that Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) employees are charging extra MK2,500 for customer to buy a bag of Maize. The findings indicate that an agreement is made between a customer, a security guard and ADMARC clerk.
”A bag of maize is at MK5, 500 and you should give us an extra amount of MK2, 500 per bag. We will keep aside the bags you want and come at night to get them. Another way you can just get boys around and give them suck bags, and they will buy as many bags as you want but in 20kgs,” arranged a guard at one of the ADMARC deport in Blantyre, Machinjiri.
In a telephone interview, Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) National Director Tamani Nkhono Mvula said his organization has already conducted a nationwide survey to establish amount and flow of maize that is there at one ADMARC deport and strategic reserve. The report expected to come out on Tuesday also highlights issue of pricing on both Pile and ADMARC market and how maize is sold to consumers by clerk.
Said Nkhono Mvula, “one of the things we have found is that there is maize flow from Pile to ADMARC market. Much of the flow is not illegal, but I can’t quantify that now until the final report is out. As for the national agriculture policy i can’t say much on it because it’s not operational and has not gone through the cabinet to be proved and used as a policy. But there is a lot that needs to be done in the maize market. Once government considers signing this agriculture policy, there will be control measure to prevent illegal trading by ADMARC clerks and other officials.”
According to CISANET Director, many people have limited access to food in the country. He said decades of skewed agricultural policies and inequitable agricultural trade have thrown the countries food systems into a volatile boom and bust cycle causing increase in poverty.
The food crisis is affecting over half the country’s population. The trigger for the present crisis is food price inflation and this has made traders to sell a 25kg bag of Maize flour imported from neighboring Zambia at MK9,800. He said the consumers should expect a continued raise in agriculture commodities due to the liberalized market Malawi has.
”When vendors import maize, it becomes their commodity and they can sell it at any price they want. The thing is that liberalized marketing forces determine the price. Our only interest is to protect consumers but when the commodity is in the hands of a private trader we dont have any power. Imported maize flour is there commodity and they can sell at any price they want. This is because Malawi has liberalized marketing forces that determine the price,” he added.
The crisis of food price inflation is simply the most recent tip of poor agricultural measures set by the Malawi government.
While food rebellion across Malawi has recently made headlines, on Wednesday, President Peter Mutharika reiterated that his government will arrest ADMARC officials that connive with vendors to buy maize in large bulk. He describing those involved as thieves.
The Malawi leader further instructed the police to arrest such unscrupulous people.