By Lisa Kadango, MANA
Government has urged farmers to sell their agricultural commodities to Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) at the minimum farm gate prices as one way of reaping optimum benefits from their sweat.
Minister of agriculture, Francis Kasaila said this in Lilongwe on Tuesday when he released the agricultural commodity farm gate marketing prices.
He urged various stakeholders including agro-dealers to ensure that the prices are realistic and reasonable to both buyers and farmers.
Kasaila cautioned farmers against selling their agricultural commodities to middlemen saying they should sale to recommended markets.
Government through the ministry of agriculture and food security is mandated under the General Crops Act cap 65:05 of the laws of Malawi to regulate prices of agricultural commodities in the country.
“This is achieved through the release of minimum farm gate prices at the start of each selling season to ensure that farmers are not exploited by the unscrupulous traders,” said Kasaila.
Kasaila revealed that the minimum farm gate prices for selected crops for 2019/2020 agricultural season are as follows, maize K200 per kg, rice K600 per kg pure beans K450 per kg just to mention a few.
He added that government is mandated to ensure affordable prices to consumers and regulate the prices as one way of improving incomes of farmers and achieving food and nutrition security in the country.
He further added that the minimum farm gate prices are determined through consultative process involving key stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
All agro-dealers, agro-processors and other stakeholders dealing with marketing of agricultural commodities are expected to adhere to set minimum prices and purchase the commodities at no less than the stated prices by government,” stressed the minister.
Kasaila said government is there to enforce these minimum prices in conjunction with relevant authorities to monitor and enforce compliance to the set minimum prices across the country.
The Minister appealed to every trader entering the market that they are strictly expected to buy the commodities at no less than the recommended minimum farm gate prices.
‘’As government we will be there to support and monitor all pressure points and markets to ensure that large scale traders that export commodities outside the country are following the measures for fear of trade gaps.
He added that it is a criminal offense under the laws of the country not to adhere to these minimum prices and that the law will take its course for non compliance.
He revealed that the government has given money to ADMARC to start buying maize starting from April 9, 2020 in all the markets in the southern region, 20 to 27 April in the central region and Northern region respectively.
Commenting on the same, CEO for ADMARC, Felix Jumbe said they have received K3billion to buy the agricultural commodities and encouraged farmers to sale their produce to ADMARC.
He said ADMARC will ensure that the minimum farm gate prices for maize and selected commodities are supported to discourage traders who exploit the farmers by offering low prices.
Jumbe explained that 70 percent of the farmers are small holders who are illiterate that they may not know the recommended prices hence the need for government to implement measures to help the farmers gain what they deserve.