By Tiyanjane Nandie Mambucha
Dowa, September 17, Mana: In a bid to reduce the cost incurred by associations and cooperatives when transporting maize to ADMARC depots, government through the Ministry of Agriculture has increased the selling price of maize for cooperatives and associations.
The new price has been increased to K215.00 per kilogram from K200.00 per kilogram. A three (3) per cent tax was also deducted from the old price.
Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe revealed the development on Wednesday when Mdapepuka Farmers Association made a donation of 80 bags of maize to two hospitals in Dowa District.
The announcement came soon after the farmers expressed their concerns over low prices for maize versus transportation costs to ADMARC depots.
He said the old price made farmers to incur losses after transporting maize from their various places to strategic ADMARC depots, hence his ministry’s consideration of that aspect.
“It is high time farmers benefitted from their produce because they have been exploited for so long,” he said.
Commenting on the donation made by Mdapepuka Farmers Association, Lowe said it was a rare case for a farmers’ association in the country to donate maize after harvesting.
The minister further expressed his hope that other farmers’ associations would emulate the good gesture.
“The association received fertilizer and maize seed from government last year. After harvesting enough for sale and for keeping, they remembered others in dire need of food at the said hospitals,” he said.
Director of Health and Social Services, Dr. Peter Makoza, said the two hospitals are Dowa District Hospital and Mponela Rural Hospital which approximately receive more than 8000 patients.
“Food is a requirement for our patients, both at Mponela Rural Hospital and Dowa District Hospital.
“Just to give a picture, both hospitals receive more than 8000 patients that require food costing close to K2 million monthly,” he said.
“So, you can see this donation will cater for us for more than one month, which is a relief for the two hospitals,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of members of Mdapepuka Farmers Association, the association’s secretary, Benarm Kanyenye said the association needed to show care for patients admitted at the two hospitals through the donation.
“The government last year gave us free farm inputs like fertilizer and maize seed from which we harvested many metric tons of maize.
“As a token of appreciation to government, we have donated 80 bags of maize to patients at Dowa and Mponela hospitals,” he said.
He said as an association, they believed they could do more in terms of farming as evidenced by last year’s harvest, saying all they need is support from government.
Mdapepuka Farmers Association was established in 2013 with only 16 members, but currently the association has 116 members.