Malawi is losing out on legume exports through uncharted trade routes and limited production.
Auction Holdings Commodities Exchange (AHCX) head of operations Davie Lockie told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview the country needs to grow legumes with a guaranteed quality as the market exists.
“Pigeon peas export demand is prominent and whichever route it may take from Malawi, the large proportion will find its way to India. For the export market, we can say without fear of contradiction that every quality grain that Malawi can produce will have a market outside of Malawi. Even where Malawi decides to double or quadruple its pigeon peas production, the demand can still not be satisfied,” Lockie challenged.
He, however, said formalising legume markets could be key to increased forex earnings for the country.
Unlike pigeon peas and ground nuts, soy beans have had a steady production which Lockie attributes to high domestic demand and low cost inputs which motivate small scale producers.
National Programme Coordinator for Sustainable Agriculture Production Programme (SAPP) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Alex Malembo, agrees with Lockie.
He says currently there is under-production which is not meeting demand both locally and internationally.
Malawi farmers still complain of dwindling earnings from tobacco and recently, fewer farmers opted to grow the crop as indicated by reduced registration from Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama).
Sustainable Agriculture Production Programme (Sapp) is among the programmes that government is implementing to increase production of agricultural commodities and improve livelihoods of people in Balaka, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Lilongwe and Nkhotakota.
International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad) is funding the programme. n