Seven firms have pledged to buy groundnuts and soy beans from farmers in the Central Region district of Dedza soon after harvest this year.
The firms made the pledges on Thursday at the start of a three-day tour in the district organised by Feed the Future, the United States government’s global hunger and food security initiative, to allow companies clinch business deals with groundnuts and soy beans growers.
The buying companies’ team leader during the tour, YamikaniJassi, who is project manager at Sunseed Oil Limited, said the companies which manufacture different food products such as cooking oil want more groundnuts and soy beans this year.
“The companies are looking for more legumes, especially groundnuts and soy beans. The production in our companies is increasing; hence, the need for more raw materials,” he said.
Jassi said, for example, his company bought 40 000 metric tonnes of soy beans last year, but this year, they will buy 180 000 metric tonnes.
Estrell Trading managing director Cecelia Rice said her company, which produces peanut butter, plans to buy groundnuts worth K530 million ($694 626).
Exagris Africa Limited senior outgrower manager said his company will buy groundnuts worth K500 million ($655 308), while Rab Processors Limited agribusiness officer Innocent Manda said they have no limit on the quantity of the legumes they intend to buy.
“Rab Processors will buy any quantity which the famers can produce. This means that even if the Dedza farmers want to sell all their groundnuts and soy beans to us, we will buy them,” said Manda.
This will likely boost legumes farmers’ earnings in a year crops output will likely be affected by dry spells in some parts of the country.
Feed the Future value chain competitiveness specialist Henry Gaga said they introduced the companies to farmers to sell their harvest directly to the firm not through traders.
“Many farmers are not making good profit because they sell their produce to middlemen [traders]. These middlemen make more profit after selling to these companies.
“Through this USaid/Malawi-financed project, we want farmers to enjoy from their sweat,” he said.
Gaga advised the farmers to set aside some legumes for food before they sell to ensure good nutrition at household level.
Not only are the legumes in high demand locally, they are most sought after in Asian countries such as India.
In the 2015/16 budget, government allocated K1 billion for legumes production in the hope that it will generate up to $200 million (about K153 billion) per annum in export earnings.