The dallying by the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) to start buying farm produce has led to farmers in some parts of Nkhatabay selling maize at very cheap prices.
Spot check findings in Nkhatabay show that some desperate farmers are selling their grain at as low as MK800 per 20 kilogram, a price which is much lower as compared to the government recommended prices of MK230 per kilogram.
In an interview, Magret Mphande, one of the farmers at Kauvi in the district, disclosed that, much as she has harvested but she still needs money to meet other basic necessities.
“Like soap, cooking oil and school fees for my children. Maize alone is not enough. I need money,” she said.
Other findings indicate that vendors are using scare tactics that are making farmers believe that ADMARC will not buy maize this year due to financial constraints.
“They’re also telling us that maize prices will go even much lower very soon, given the abundant supply. With the delay by ADMARC, it’s easy to give in to such speculations,” said David Mbewe, another farmer at Chithowe area in the district.
In Malawi, farmers continue to toil in abject poverty due to what commentators describe as lack of proper marketing strategies for farm produce in the country.
Gregory Msukwa, an agricultural expert in the northern region, told this reporter in an interview that most farmers do not reap from their labour because of lacking reliable markets to sell their commodities at good prices.
“As a result, they are the vendors who are getting rich. Leaving the farmer poor. We can cheapen farm inputs. But if we can’t provide reliable markets to farmers, there’s nothing we’re doing,” said Msukwa.
Recently, the Minister of Agriculture, Robin Lowe, stressed that buying farm produce from farmers in time is of value and his ministry is doing all it can to start buying the commodities as soon as possible.