Three independent parliamentary candidates for Chitipa East have promised coffee farmers better benefits from their sweat.
They were speaking during a political debate organised by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) in partnership with the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Karonga Diocese.
Asked what they would do to protect peasant farmers from vendors who offer low prices, Kafunja Msukwa said farmers need support to form cooperatives because unity gives them power to bargain for better prices.
Taking his turn, Mickson Msukwa promised to upgrade Misuku-Kapoka earth road to an all-weather road to ease transportation costs and woe buyers.
But Anthony Kayange cooperatives and better roads will not bring much profit if farmers do not get machines for producing, processing and packaging their produce.
“Value-addition is the only solution. It pains me when I see Misuku Coffee in shops labelled Mzuzu Coffee, when 90 percent is produced here. It pains to see buyers leading a lavish lifestyle while farmers wallow in poverty,” he said.
Kayange stated that if elected, he would move a motion in Parliament to ban the importation of bananas from Tanzania and Mozambique.
“Misuku has the potential to supply bananas throughout Malawi all year round,” he said.
Agnes Mbughi, from Kakomo Village, said the candidates’ pledges offer hope to growers like her who have endured “rip-offs for decades”.
“Let’s hope that this is not just rhetoric and campaign talk,” said the coffee farmer.
Nice and Karonga Diocese’s CCJP have rolled out public debates and electoral road shows with funding from EU, Germany Embassy and Open Society for Southern Africa. n