The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has raised serious concerns over the recently announced maize pricing by the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC), challenging the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Sam Kawale, to justify the decision amid the looming threat of starvation in the country.
CDEDI has expressed alarm over the MK600 per kilogramme price of maize set by ADMARC, asserting that the selling price of MK30,000 per 50-kilogramme bag is deeply problematic, particularly when juxtaposed with the minimum wage in the country, which stands at MK50,000. This pricing discrepancy raises concerns about the survival of the impoverished majority in both urban and rural areas. The organization also highlighted the vulnerability of the ultra-poor, whose access to staple food could be influenced by political considerations.
Former Minister of Agriculture, Hon Lobin Lowe, had previously overseen maize sales through ADMARC at a price of MK15,000 per 50-kilogramme bag. This new price announcement represents a 100 percent increase, raising questions about the government’s commitment to addressing the imminent threat of starvation faced by millions of Malawians.
CDEDI contested the assertion that the new maize price is informed by the government’s previously announced farm-gate price, emphasizing that this pricing approach fails to consider the challenges faced by monthly minimum wage earners who are responsible not only for their own families but also for the well-being of relatives experiencing starvation in both urban and rural areas. The organization also drew attention to the millions of orphans who rely on wage earners for sustenance.
The organization pointed out that a staggering 91 percent of the employable population is currently jobless, highlighting the ethical responsibility to ensure that staple food remains accessible to the impoverished majority.
CDEDI urged the government, particularly Minister Hon Kawale, to take into account the plight of survivors of Cyclone Freddy, those affected by drought in Karonga, and the ultra-poor, stressing the importance of protecting these vulnerable groups from the dire consequences of starvation.
CDEDI remains steadfast in advocating for affordable maize prices and the free distribution of food to the ultra-poor, regardless of their political affiliations, in order to alleviate the threat of starvation.