CDEDI to conduct protests at Parliament over rising cost of maize

Sylvester Namiwa

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) says it will conduct protests at Parliament in Lilongwe tomorrow to force government to release maize to Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) depots in all districts.

Executive Director for CDEDI Sylvester Namiwa told journalists on Tuesday in Lilongwe that Section 12 of the Republican Constitution, which demands
transparency and accountability in the exercise of the powers borrowed on trust from the people the organization, is demanding Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale in collaboration with the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture chairperson Sameer Suleman to lead the country’s food stakeholders, including the media, to physically verify quantities of maize available in the NFRA silos at Kanengo, and elsewhere.

He added that they should formalise the proposed new prices of maize, at MK12,000 per 50-kilogramme bag.

“We are also demanding that they should come out clearly on how the maize to be released from NFRA will be transported to all corners of the country where it is most needed.

“We are asking them to explain to the nation government’s position to replenish the grain reserves, whether through
local production using irrigation farming, or through importation. In the case of the latter, government should explain the source of the maize and when it would be available in the country,” he said.

Namiwa went on to say that CDEDI reiterates its stand that the maize situation in the country is a life-threatening
disaster-in-waiting and government’s insistence on rationing the maize, despite being an indirect admission that the situation is worse than projected, will only worsen the situation on the ground as some selfish individuals will hijack the rationed maize.

He then implored Kawale to go beyond merely mentioning figures of quantities
of maize available at the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) at Kanengo in Lilongwe, by physically taking stakeholders there to confirm the same.

“Only a physical check at NFRA will help to dispute disheartening reports making rounds in the social media to the effect that the grain silos are actually empty, hence the minister’s insistence on food rationing, barely two months after harvesting the staple food,” he said.

He further said that the request comes against a backdrop that Kawale promised Malawians that tomorrow, Wednesday August 16, 2023, he will announce details of how government plans to stabilise
maize prices by stocking Admarc markets with the staple grain from NFRA storage.

“Tomorrow, Malawians are expecting to hear at which Admarc depots they should go to buy maize and, most
importantly, at prices the poor majority can afford. We remind Kawale that in human rights, violations to the right to food occur when the
State fails to ensure the minimum requirements either through action or omission for the people
to be free from hunger,” said Namiwa.