Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has challenged the Malawi Government to enforce compliance to farm-gate prices, warning smallholder farmers will not benefit anything from the set down prices if authorities at the Capital Hill do not monitor the situation on the ground.
CfSC Executive Director Reverend Father Dr. James Ngahy observed that poultry feed manufacturers have already increased the prices of the feed while smallholder farmers are not getting a fair share.
He said this is exacerbating poverty and inequality. Ngahy makes the sentiments in a statement the Centre released on Friday morning.
“CfSC strongly believes that without government intervention in ensuring access to profitable markets like ADMARC, smallholder farmers and ordinary Malawians will not benefit from the recently released farm gate prices. This is an appropriate time for the government to act accordingly in order to ensure food security for our nation, ‘the Warm Heart of Africa’, putting in mind that the cyclones too maybe here to stay in the near future! “Prevention is better than cure,” warns Father Ngahy.
CfSC has also recommended that the government must ensure that ADMARC depots are sufficiently funded and open the markets on time in order to buy crops from farmers.
Father Ngahy said this would ensure that vulnerable farmers are protected from unscrupulous traders who exploit them by offering low prices.
“The government must not only encourage farmers but also empower them in bargaining for fair and just prices for their commodities which enable them to generate profit. CfSC believes that the increase and control in (and of) prices for farm produce will increase the disposable income that will support farmers in improving their standard of living, and thus, escaping from the jaws of poverty. CfSC is convinced that the provision of profitable markets will reduce the burden on the national budget due to increased demand for universal subsidies for food or farm inputs,” says Father Ngahy in the statement.
He also called for the capitalization of ADMARC, stressing that a random survey revealed that most of its depots do not buy crops due to the unavailability of funds.
Ngahy said CfSC believes that a reformed ADMARC must be able to buy crops from farmers at a price that those farmers are able to make a profit, which will, in turn, enable farmers to buy maize from ADMARC at a reasonable price.
“Centre for Social Concern, therefore, is recommending that ADMARC depots should have enough money available to buy maize from farmers. Further, Centre for the Social Concern recommends that our honourable Members of Parliament should support the effort of the government, under the management of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to uproot corruption that is prevailing in ADMARC markets. The buying of maize must be done in a transparent manner in order to avoid ADMARC staff from forming cartels with the traders in view of monopolizing ADMARC markets,” he said.
During the launch of ADMARC’s New Vision, the former Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Hon. Lobin Lowe, said it is sad that massive corruption at ADMARC has stood in the way of its progress.
Lowe stated that ADMARC has gone through a lot of syndicates and corruption that needs to be dealt with at all levels. I have all the information that for example, the syndicates involved some ADMARC employees engaging vendors to buy from farmers at poor prices and in return, the vendors used to sell the produce to ADMARC at higher prices.