Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi chairperson Susan Chimbayo says the association is committed to addressing market challenges encountered by farmers in Mwanza.
She said this in an interview when officials from Christian Aid-funded Malonda Project visited Mazimboko Cooperative at Njanjama Village in the district on Friday.
“The association was formed to have one voice and what we are doing is to make our farmers work in groups, clubs and cooperatives, aggregate their produce and link them to profitable markets,” said Chimbayo.
She commended pigeon peas farmers in their area for being proactive in the activities of the cooperative.
In an interview, Christian Aid acting director Emmanuel Kanike said his organisation provides support for the project so that livelihoods of farmers are improved.
“We are working with local organisations such as Nandolo Farmers Association to improve lives of households in the country,” he said, adding that about 3 300 farmers in 12 000 households in Mwanza, Machinga and Balaka districts have been reached with the programme.
Kanike said the project focuses on the marketing aspect both locally and internationally after realising that farmers have been victims of poor prices.
In the past two seasons, India has allowed imports of pigeon peas in the region of 200 metric tonnes (MT) per year upon signing of a trade agreement between India and the exporting countries.
Malawi did not secure a quota on this import cap in the past two seasons.
Figures show that Malawi remains the third largest producer of pigeon peas in the world exporting an average of 250 000MT annually.
Since India introduced the trade policy on import of tul dal, Malawi has lost 64 percent in export earnings between 2016 and 2018, according to the High Commission of India, with the country’s exports to India falling drastically from $39.32 million (about K29 billion) in 2016/17 to $9.05 million (about K7 billion) in 2017/18.
In its recent position paper on pigeon peas titled Pigeon Pea Marketing Trends in Malawi: What Does the Future Hold for Malawian Pigeon Peas Farmers? Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) observed that unlike in other countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, the pigeon pea market in Malawi is disorganised, with the market systems characterised by highly fragmented marketing channels based on individual family enterprises.