Local farmers of legumes have an opportunity to benefit from their sweat following the identification of lucrative markets for the crops in Asia, Middle East, Africa and the United Kingdom (UK).
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc)—the country’s one-stop investment and trade centre— and AHL Commodities Exchange (AHXC), said they have identified markets for pigeon peas, soy beans, groundnuts (Chalimbana and CG7), sunflower and beans.
The two firms said there is demand for 100 000 metric tonnes (MT) of pigeon peas, 130 000 MT soy beans, 80 000 MT for groundnuts, 30 000 MT sunflower, 10 000 MT kidney beans and 5 000 MT of sugar beans in United Arab Emirates (UAE), Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, India, UK, China and Maldives.
The demand comes hot on the heels of government’s allocation of K2 billion in the 2015/16 National Budget to support legume production to compete on the global market.
In the 2015/16 budget statement, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said government foresees the production of legumes generating up to $200 million (about K110 billion) per annum to sustain a high foreign exchange reserves position and maintain exchange rate stability.
Experts have long questioned the country’s capacity to meet demand of the global market and Mitc has encouraged farmers to grow more legumes in readiness for the 2016 selling season.
While production of legumes has been below the required quantities for the export market, AHCX public relations officer Maggie Msiska said in an interview on Wednesday the commodity exchange market is confident that with market-driven production, yield will be higher to meet the demand for local and international buyers.
She said this will be done through forward contracts introduced in April this year.
Msiska said the price of pegion peas went up from around K200 per kilogramme (kg) last year to K615 kg this year to encourage farmers to produce more.
AHCX is assuring growers of minimum price and potential for higher than the minimum price, depending on prevailing market conditions at harvest period.
National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (Nasfam), a grouping of the country’s smallholder farmers, has the potential to spearhead the production of legumes and its head of business and marketing, Kingsley Makiyoni, said farmers will get a huge share out of the business opportunity.
He said Nasfam is working with 174 000 farmers countrywide, but there is a challenge in pigeon peas as production levels are low due to past experiences where farmers could not access the market.
Said Makiyoni: “Most farmers are only producing it [pigeon peas] as a traditional crop and a small surplus for sale. This [meeting of demand] is achievable as long as farmers have access to certified seeds and if there is also favourable rainfall.”n