The Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi has expressed concern over lack of structured markets for pigeon peas in the country, saying this has affected its efforts to scale up production.
This is according to chairperson for the association, Susan Chimbayo who was speaking during pigeon peas (locally known as Nandolo) stakeholders meeting in Blantyre where she said the crop needs well-structured markets both local and international.
Chimbayo further observed that lack of proper market structures for the crop which is deemed to be a cash crop alternative to tobacco, expose the farmers to exploitative prices of their commodities, thereby, reaping meagre proceeds.
“As of now, we are witnessing many potential players in the farming leaving the sector due to lack of proper structured markets. This is also contributing to the dwindling rate of production to meet the globalizing pp market demands.
“If the markets are not well structured, farmers have no say on the prices and tonnage. Therefore, they become victims of exploitive prices, hence not reaping enough. This make them to leave the sector,” she said
Chimbayo also disclosed that the use of recycled seeds is another contributing factor for the sector to lose players, saying seeds for the crop are also expensive which make many farmers to use the recycled seeds which does not yield enough.
According to her, the association is still engaging government and other stakeholders on the possibilities of having structured markets so as to increase production and meet the high demand across the world.
Commenting on the matter, the country director for Christian Aid Malawi, Luke Theu, proposed that the government should come up with a proper policy direction on the market to ensure that the sales proceeds come through banks, saying a lot of unscrupulous traders siphon money to other countries in the absence of the well-regulated and structured markets.
“This crop does not require huge investment but surely, access to market policy will definitely give farmers a say on prices and tonnage,” he said.
Theu also emphasized on the need for value addition and quality so as the proposed structured markets are sustained and fetch better prices on the global markets.
Making his presentation, director for HMS foods and grains limited, Akash Deep, appealed to government to simplify its export trade system so that many traders can export the products to other international markets such as India.
The trader observed that the export licencing system seemed to be complicated, a development which he said put off the interest if traders to export and produce.
“Most traders apply for licences to export but they are frustrated. On the other hand, other potential buyers just get the licence but have no capacity to supply the market. This tendency hinders the other potential buyers a chance to supply, ” he said.
Recently, the Malawi government signed a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Indian government for the country to be exporting 50, 000 metric tonnes of pigeon peas as a raw material to Indian government per season.
Pigeon peas association, trading as Nandolo association of Malawi stated in 2015 through the support from the Christian Aid Malawi and has over 35 clubs, associations and cooperatives cross the country.