AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX) has said legumes have the potential to help the country generate about $1 billion (about K700 trillion) of forex to complement tobacco earnings.
Tobacco, which is estimated to account for 60 percent of Malawi’s foreign exchange earnings is currently facing stiff opposition from the anti-smoking lobbyists.
According to AHCX head of operations Davis Manyenje, this year alone the demand for legumes stand at $300 million (about K225 billion), but there is potential that the country can generate as much as $1 billion only if legume production is up-scaled.
“When you look at legume potential, there is a possibility that in future even tobacco can be surpassed. The country needs to take advantage of the dry spell in most African countries and increase production of legumes because anything food-related will be fetching high prices on the market,” said Manyenje.
He predicts that the cycle of food shortages in many countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region can take as long as five years and those who can produce crops such as legumes in large quantities can generate more money.
On his part, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said Malawi needed to upscale legume production to benefit from the high demand for the crops on the international market, especially India.
“What we need to do is to fully utilise our potential in agriculture and make sure that we value-add within the country so that we export complete products,” said Gondwe.
Last year, government revealed plans to develop a contract farming strategy as one way of promoting the production and selling of legumes such as pigeon peas.