Mzuzu, April, 13, 2019: As the agricultural season goes into harvesting period, Kasungu Agricultural Development Division Program Manager, George Kapelemera, has asked chiefs to get rid of middlemen buying crops below government set prices.
He was speaking last week in Nkhata Bay during Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division (MZADD) field day where he was guest of honour.
Kapelemera said currently, government has not released minimum farm gate prices, but it is sad that in some communities, vendors have already started buying from farmers.
"I must say here that so far there has not been any communication from government regarding minimum set prices for our various crops, hence it is illegal for any vendor to start buying produce from farmers.
"I am therefore asking chiefs who are here and the rest of the country to be vigilant in protecting our vulnerable farmers from being exploited by these vendors," said Kapelemera.
He explained that chiefs in the country are better placed to deal with vendors since these vendors operate in the chiefs communities.
"Before any vendor starts operating in any community, he first contacts a local chief to be given a place to do his trade. This is why I am saying chiefs are the ones who should tell them (vendors) in the face not to operate in their areas.
"These vendors take advantage of our farmers' vulnerability by buying from them at very poor prices. It's very painful to see poor farmers complain yearly about poverty yet they had good produce. As a nation let us all protect these farmers," Kapelemera said.
In reaction, Traditional Authority Timbiri of Nkhata Bay asked government to quickly release the farm gate prices as well as release funds for State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) to start buying from farmers.
"I also request government to release this year's farm gate prices so that anyone on the market should be able to offer these minimum prices.
Furthermore, I am also requesting government to quickly start buying various produce from farmers so that they do not sell to these vendors out of desperation," he said.