Icrisat project manager Felix Sichali challenged the farmers at a field day the research institution organised at Lupembe Extension Planning Area (EPA) in the district.
He said Icrisat sponsored a business trip for Nasfam and Kakuyu Investment officials to India where they discovered that pigeon peas is one of the staple foods and after discussion with one of the major food companies in that country, they were told to supply it with 5 000 metric tonnes of pigeon peas in a month. This translates to 60 000 metric tonnes in a year.
Sichali asked farmers to take advantage of the opportunity to produce more pigeon peas for the Indian company which he declined to mention.
He said as farmers are facing challenges to sell their crops, pigeon peas have a huge and ready market in India.
This is good news considering government is looking for an alternative crop to tobacco, Malawiâ€™s major foreign exchange earner which is facing some challenges due to the global anti-smoking lobby.
Sichali said if this deal materialises, Malawiâ€™s economy will improve as government will be able to get the much-needed foreign exchange earnings.
He, however, admitted that supplying such huge amounts of pigeon peas is a challenge since most farmers do not grow much of the crop.
But Abrahama Malange, a farmer in the district, assured Icrisat that farmers are happy with the idea and will organise themselves to grow more pigeon peas to meet the demands of the market.
Government is also on a campaign of encouraging farmers to grow legumes such as pigeon peas, groundnuts, soya beans and ordinary beans for export.