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FUM Asks Govt To Act on Vendors Duping Farmers

Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) President Frighton Njolomole says the Union expects government to act with speed in protecting farmers from unscrupulous vendors who have flooded the markets buying agricultural produce below the set farm gate prices.

Zodiak snap-check at Thekerani and Goliati in Thyolo has established that traders are buying maize between K150 to K180 per kilogram which is way below the minimum of K220.

Speaking to Zodiak on Tuesday, Njolomole said government's delay to enforce compliance is giving opportunity to unscrupulous middle buyers an edge to exploit farmers, who he said fail to make profit from their hard work.

This is coming two weeks after government announced farm-gate prices for the 2022 season with minimum price for Malawi’s staple grain, maize, set at K220 per kilogram, up from K150 per Kilogram in 2021.

According to Njolomole, government should go a mile in safeguarding farmers from vendors that are duping them.

"Seeing that vendors have now flooded into the villages and buying at K150 per Kg, that is not on. That is not what the government wanted actually. If there are vendors who have put the heart, definitely there are supposed to offer much more and not K150. If vendors can go on the market and offer about K220, it is going to be okay, they can even offer more.

"But if they insist offering at K150 or less than that, I think its high time government intervened," he said.

This comes however, after Minister of agriculture Lobin Lowe, during the farm gate announcement, challenged that no unlicensed buyers should be allowed to buy produce from farmers, saying government through security agents will be on the ground to protect them.

National Police deputy spokesperson Harry Namwaza, while firing a warning shot to vendors doing that, says police will follow up.

"It's s clear, government set the minimum prices, so as police we are just urging them to comply with the prices. But if the traders happen not to comply, the law will take its course, because they have to comply with that," Namwaza said.

According to the farm gate prices, soya beans, finger millet and pure beans should be sold at not less than K480 per kg, while pure beans have dropped from K510 per kg.

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