Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is yet to start selling maize to consumers even though prices for the commodity continue to soar as private traders dominate the market, which is often stabilised by the State grain trader’s presence.
Spot-checks by The Daily Times in some townships in Blantyre such as Zingwangwa and Ndirande revealed that Admarc is yet to start offering its maize for sale and that the commodity is not yet in the selling points.
A December 2020 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute stated that food prices rose by six percent from the previous month.
The report indicated that, by end December, prices of maize were averaging K200 or more per kilogramme (kg) translating to K10,000 per 50kg bag.
However, during our spot-checks, we discovered that maize prices have further risen to K11,000 for a 50kg bag, with fears that the commodity might fetch more than that in the coming days if Admarc did not flood the market with its maize.
A private trader at Zingwangwa Market, Bertha Mkonjo, said prices for their commodities were determined by the cost of the maize where they get it.
“When we went to buy maize on wholesale last month, we found that the prices had risen. So we had no choice but to raise our retail prices too and, as you have noticed, everyone here is selling their maize at K11,000 but I reduced the price by K500 just to beat the competition,” Mkonjo explained.
January and February are lean months where maize is scarce in the country and because of the demand and supply theory factor, prices traditionally rise.
Meanwhile, Consumers Association of Malawi Executive Director John Kapito has said he is worried that Malawians are accessing maize at high prices when Admarc has the grain in stock.
He has since called on the government, through Admarc and other State grain reserves, to protect consumers who, he said, are already sailing through difficult economic times amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Had they released that maize, it could have calmed the increase in prices that we are seeing now. Essentially, by not releasing the grain onto the market, they are saying consumers should pay more money for the commodity,” Kapito said.
Admarc is reportedly holding over 135,000 metric tonnes of the staple food after two phases of maize purchases.
Admarc spokesperson Agnes Chikoko Ndovi was not immediately available for a comment.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.