Farmers in Mulanje have bemoaned low prices offered for orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, describing the situation as counterproductive.
The complaints come at a time most potato farmers are now adopting improved orange-fleshed varieties being championed by International Potato Centre which is implementing a Root and Tuber Crops for Agriculture Transformation in Malawi project.
Potato farmer Joyce Pofera, from Traditional Authority Chikumbu, said despite the variety being rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, it is fetching low prices at informal markets.
“These are improved varieties with nutritional values beneficial to people’s health, but buyers do not appreciate this and offer lower prices,” she said.
Pofera said a 50 kilogramme (kg) bag fetches K5 000, the same amount buyers offer for local varieties.
“I would have loved to sell a 50 kg bag at more than K5 000, but no buyer is willing to pay more,” she said.
But International Potato Centre market chain specialist Eliya Kapalasa advised the potato farmers to produce more orange-fleshed potatoes to be linked to formal markets where prices are better.
“Farmers can be linked to bakeries which process potato into other food products,” he said.
A media tour to Chinakanaka Trading Centre where farmers sell their potato, showed that prices range from K3 000 to K5 000 per bag.
The orange-fleshed varieties were bred in Malawi by the Department of Agriculture Research Services.
The project, supported by Irish Aid, seeks to increase the productivity of orange-fleshed potato and European potato varieties as well as cassava.