Even though the maize crop will have a huge surplus, that is not always a good thing. Of course it means that farmers will have enough to eat, but nothing is that simple.
To get the maize ground into mealie meal, it must be taken to a mill. At present, the millers have raised their fees so high that in some cases the cost of shpiing the maize to the mill, paying the miller, and then returning it home is more than the farmer can get paid for the maize. In addition, the cost for fertilizer and fuel has gone up dramatically.
The Government has also fixed the price for maize. Although higher than in the past, it still does not reflect the actual costs if the farmers want to engage in conservation farming. For instance, the subsidy is for maize, but not groundnuts. This is an excellent crop for rotation with maize. Farmers cannot maintain enough capital to invest in alternative crops so they are forced to continue to grow maize using fertilizer every year.
Corruption has also be found to depress prices. In one case, a Government Minister was found to have created a company to buy the maize from the Government at the controlled price, then resell it at a much higher price in Malawi to a Malawian Official. The two Officials then split the extra money between them. The only thing out of the ordinary in this arrangement is that they were found out.
The school is on break right now, so we are still waiting for the end of the vacation and the return of the teachers. We then will try to start up our long delayed email exchange.
The last I heard, the Mwachilele School is going to have to drill an entirely new well right in the place they first identified over a year ago! Patience is a virtue, I suppose. Just not one I have developed very well.
Victor says that the outlook for vegetables is very good this year because all the streams are running full. Vegetables need a lot of irrigation during the dry season which has just begun.