AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX) has registered over 4 000 new farmers who previously grew tobacco only, but have now either expanded or completely abandoned the leaf to venture into legume production.
The growers were registered when AHCX and its sister companies AHL Tobacco Sales and Agricultural Trading Company (ATC) held joint field meetings in 32 tobacco growing areas nationwide in December 2016.
The meetings were aimed at encouraging established farmers to venture into the production of legumes in addition to tobacco, according to AHCX communications manager Thom Khanje.
Tobacco, the country’s main export crop and contributes about 60 percent to foreign exchange earnings, has been facing worldwide anti-smoking campaign from the World Health Organisation (WHO) through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
“Tobacco is and will remain the main cash crop in Malawi. However, the crop has been encountering many challenges mainly as a result of decreased demand at global level.
“AHL Group established AHCX to encourage growers to produce tobacco quantities that match trade requirements while diversifying into other crops they can also sell through AHCX,” said Khanje.
Through the field meetings, AHCX has profiled and listed interested tobacco growers to produce legumes in large quantities and sell through AHCX, one of the two structured markets for grain and legumes, starting this year.
“Our marketing and field teams are currently on the ground following up on these farmers. Most of them have planted soya beans, sugar beans, groundnuts, pigeon peas and maize.
“We will continue to engage them throughout the production chain up to the time they bring their harvest for sell through the exchange and beyond,” he said.
The growers’ mobile phone numbers have also been added into AHCX’s robust short message service (SMS) platform that will allow them access to regular market information on commodities such as prices.
AHCX, established in 2013, is a fully electronic market for commodities where buyers and sellers transact trade in grain and legumes with assurance of quality, quantity, delivery and payment.
Commodities currently traded through AHCX include maize, soya beans, pigeon peas, groundnuts, white haricot beans, dark speckled beans, light speckled beans, sunflower, cow peas and rice.
Apart from AHCX, Malawi has also Agriculture Commodities Exchange for Africa (ACE). n