Growers have said price variations, lack of access to inputs and failure by buyers to comply with contractual agreements is hindering their success.
This was said on Friday in Lilongwe at a meeting organised by African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) to find solutions to improve growers’ productivity and income.
The meeting came a week after small-scale farmers in the Northern Region accused some commodity buyers of exploitation by not adhering to legally binding contracts.
For instance, one of the farmers from Mhuju Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwahenga in Rumphi, Saviour Nkhonjera, said lack of legally binding contracts made her cooperative to lose 15 tonnes of soya beans which could have earned her K2.7 million.
“We had a verbal contract with a certain company which promised to buy our soya beans. They later asked us to transport the commodity to Mzuzu ourselves. This required us to source K60 000 which we did not have,” said Nkhonjera at an agriculture interface meeting in Mzuzu last week organised by Aicc.
The meeting, which attracted 50 farmers from the region, was organised to look at the challenges farmers face to improve output.
At a meeting in Lilongwe, district agriculture development officer Hastings Yotam said farmers usually work as individuals; hence, lacking lobbying power.
“Through this meeting, we are encouraging them to work as a group. If they get organised as a group, they will get an organised market.
“Through this meeting we have brought agro dealers and buyers. This is the right forum for them to seal lasting contracts with agro dealers,” he said.
Aicc market access manager Macloud Kayira said their role is to provide a platform for producers and buyers to ensure that they work together.
He said: “Farmers cannot do without buyers. The same applies to agro dealers because they cannot sustain their business without farmers who are the producers.”
One of the farmers from Ntchisi, Patricia Kazonga, said the meeting was enriching.
“We have been getting raw deals from buyers. This is our opportunity to interact with them and present our challenges,” she said.