Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has advised farmers to form associations to enhance their bargaining power on farm produce prices.
The ministry’s director of extension services Jeromy Nkhoma said this on Saturday during the opening of this year’s Nkhotakota District Agriculture Fair.
He said apart from the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), government has come up with other initiatives to support smallholder farmers.
Nkhoma said the initiatives would only work if the farmers price their produce rather than leaving buyers, especially vendors to do it for them.
“It is unfortunate that despite all the concerns raised by farmers that they do not make profit after selling their produce, they keep on engaging vendors who buy their farm produce at lower than the recommended prices.
“It is high time farmers formed associations and put right prices for their commodities if farmers are to develop,” he said.
The district’s agriculture committee chairperson Samson Kaziputa complained that farm inputs are being sold at high prices, saying time will come when no one would be interested to engage in farming due to the huge loses they encounter.
He urged government to set up standards for regulating associations, saying a number of groups also take advantage of the farmers by reaping benefits from agricultural commodities rather than farmers.
The fair’s organising committee chairperson Light Burton said the event is organised annually to help farmers link up with potential buyers and microfinance institutions to help them access loans to grow their businesses.
The event was held from Thursday to Saturday under the theme Linking Farmers to Agriculture Inputs and Outputs.
Total Land Care, Evangelical Association of Malawi, Food and Agriculture Organisation and Ripple Africa are some of the organisations that sponsored the event.