Mkondezi Rice Farmers Cooperative in Nkhata Bay says it is struggling to maximise rice production due to lack of readily available and stable markets.
The group, which last year harvested 57 metric tons of rice, says such a huge volume of rice needed a reliable market for farmers to make profit by keeping middle men out of the market.
During a tour of the area by Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division (ADD) last week, the cooperative’s chairperson, Brenda Mtegha said farmers relied on secondary schools as their market.
She complained that business with schools limits the farmers’ options for better bargaining.
“Last year, we harvested close to 60 tons. I am sure if we had ready markets, we could have done better as we would bargain for better prices from the buyers,” she said.
Mtegha said the cooperative tried to court a number of established Super Malls in the country to sell their packed produce but failed short of meeting the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) license requirement.
The chairperson said MBS visited their cooperative for inspection but did not licence it as its business premises did not have a fence which is a prime requirement.
Mzuzu ADD programme manager Wellington Phewa advised the cooperative to be vibrant in mobilizing resources for its fence to enhance the accreditation process.