Last week, the Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe announced the minimum farm gate price for maize, pegged at K150 per kilogram. In reaction, the Farmers Union o f Malawi (FUM) has asked the government to adjust upwards the gate price, to K200.
Announcing the gate price of various commodities, the Minister said the minimum farm gate prices are determined by cost of production, market forces, price trends for previous years and export parity. However maize farmers feel that the gate price is not fair; “We are compelled to think that government assumes that the cost of production for maize went down due to the Affordable Input Programme [AIP].” said FUM president Frighton Njolomole, “However, data from the Ministry of Agriculture indicates that only 3.4 million households (out of the targeted 3.7 million) actually redeemed. This means that about half a million farming households produced their maize with fertiliser purchased at a commercial price”
On the other hand, the Cotton Farmers Association (Cofa) has rejected the K320 gate price, stating that they will not settle for a price lesser than K400 per kg. Cofa President Dickson Gundani said that the current gate price is low, considering labour costs and gross margin. “I have booked an appointment with the Minister of Agriculture to tell him that we do not accept the price,” he said.