Government has said it will develop a contract farming strategy for pigeon peas as one way of promoting growing and selling of the crop within and outside Malawi.
Director of crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Geoffrey Ching’oma said in an interview yesterday in Blantyre the strategy aims at promoting farmer groups to negotiate for better prices.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a Pigeon Peas Conference titled Enhancing Pigeon Peas Competitiveness in Malawi Through Stakeholder Collaboration jointly organised by Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet), Business Innovative Facility (BIF) and African Institute of Citizenship (AICC).
He said: “In this contract farming strategy, we would want to promote farmer group associations to produce [pigeon peas] as a group and sell in a contract marketing arrangement with buyers.
“These are processors who are processing pigeon peas so that they can get better prices because right now, they are being cut by middlemen who are buying the crop from farmers and selling it to processors.”
The conference was organised hot on the heels of identification
of markets for legumes, such as pigeon peas, soy beans and groundnuts and beans in Asia, Middle East Africa and United Kingdom (UK) by Malawi Investment and Trade Centre and AHL Commodities Exchange (AHXC).
It also came after Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe allocated K2 billion in the 2015/16 Nation Budget to support legumes production to compete on the global market.
Government foresees the production of legumes generating up to $200 million (about K110 billion) per annum.
Ching’ona said if farmers are mobilised in groups, associations and cooperatives, they can be in a position to export more to markets India and Europe, adding that currently, government is working on a legal framework for the strategy.
“Already, there is a contract law in existence [so], what we are thinking of making some amendments through Parliament so that we can fit in the contract farming strategy and in the near future that should be done,” he said.
On his part, Nandolo Association of Malawi chairperson Susan Chimbayo hailed the move, saying it will be an incentive for farmers to increase production because farmers with contracts will know what to expect on the market.
BIF country manager Jennifer Willis while acknowledging that Malawi is a major producer of pigeon peas, said farmers are failing to make enough profit from their harvest.
He said Malawi’s overall pigeon peas overall production is 315 000 metric tonnes annually but production remains below the required projections.