Misuku Hills coffee farmers will soon start enjoying fruits of their sweat if what the three independent shadow Parliamentarian candidates for Chitipa East constituency promised at a political debate that NICE Public Trust in conjunction with CCJP of Karonga diocese organized on Friday at Misuku community ground is anything to go by.
Taking their turns after being asked what they would do to protect peasant farmers from vendors who exploit farmers by offering low prices, Kafunja Msukwa said the solution would be to help farmers form cooperatives that would in turn empower them to do everything in groups.
His counterpart Mickson Msukwa told the audience that with coffee being the district’s cash crop, his immediate assignment therefore would be to rehabilitate the Misuku-Kapoka road to an all-weather to road ease transportation of the crop.
Another independent shadow candidate, Anthony Kayange while agreeing with his fellow candidates, said apart from helping farmers to form cooperatives that would help farmers access farm inputs, he will buy them machines for production, processing and packaging so that farmers should be selling processed coffee.
“It pains me a lot when I see our Misuku coffee in shops labeled Mzuzu coffee when 90 percent of it is produced here. It pains me when I see buyers leading a lavish life style at the expense of peasant farmers while those who sweat for the crop are in pangs of grinding poverty.
“If these farmers are to benefit from their hard work then value addition is the only solution. Therefore, voting for me is the only solution to their misery,” Kayange said.
Kayange also pledged to take a step further once voted to Parliament by banning the importation of bananas from Tanzania and Mozambique, saying Misuku has the potential of supplying bananas to the whole Malawi throughout the year.
These promises brought hope to coffee growers as witnesses by one Agnes Mbughi who came from Kakomo village to follow the debate’s proceedings and was left convinced that one day, she will benefit from the produce.
“This debate has given us an opportunity to hear from candidates what they will do when we elect them to represent us in Parliament. Let’s hope that this is not just mere rhetoric and campaign talk.
“We coffee farmers have been on the losing end for quite a long time. But with what these candidates have told us at this debate, hope has been rekindled and we are see light at the end of the tunnel,” Mbughi said.
National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust Chitipa and Justice and Peace (JP) of Karonga diocese with funding from EU, Germany Embassy and OSISA conducted the road shows and the debate to bring shadow candidates closer to electorates to discuss issues on various topics including access to information law on health rights and budgetary allocations on drugs and projects ahead of the May 21 polls.