Goodal Gondwe spoke in response to a question raised by Ntchisi South Member of Parliament Nkhosa Kamwendo who wanted the Ministry of Agriculture to implement prices for crop produce which government has been publicizing in the media.
The Finance Minister observed that it has been government’s intention to allow the grain marketer purchase the maize when it has dried as compared to be bought with high moisture content because it easily goes bad.
He nonetheless assured the members that funds have been allocated to ADMARC to enable it undertake the task.
“As far as government is concerned the resources are there. We have means of ensuring that ADMARC is fully funded. There are adequate resources to ensure that ADMARC buys from farmers,” assured Gondwe.
This prompted Dowa East legislator Richard Banda to ask the Finance Minister how much money has been given to the grain marketer.
In response Gondwe informed the House that K5 Billion Kwacha has been allocated to ADMARC and additional resources will be given if need be.
He stated that Treasury has also given it the mandate to borrow from commercial banks with government as the guarantor.
Whilst acknowledging that ADMARC has outstanding loans to commercial banks he assured that this is being looked into.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Aggrey Masi pointed out that the Ministry set up minimum prices to help famers recover costs of production and to protect them from exploitation from unscrupulous traders with support from Parliament.
Masi told members strategies have been put in place to address the issue citing intensification of sensitization to help them bargain better.
He explained that as a way of empowering farmers the Ministry of Agriculture is training them so that they are aware of the appropriate prices.
He also urged the lawmakers to ensure that they get involved in raising awareness noting that the task of ensuring that this is done is a collective responsibility.
Contributing to the debate Kasungu Central legislator Amon Nkhata sought clarification if it’s possible to put a stop order to unscrupulous traders who are buying maize as low as K50- K70 per kg.
Masi said it is possible arguing that this can be done if the farmers are patient enough to use ADMARC to sell their produce.