Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi president Susan Chimbayo has said lack of reliable markets has increased the proliferation of inter-mediate buyers in the pigeon peas value chain resulting in exploitation.
In an interview on Monday, she said the sector needs competition in terms of major buyers, processors and exporters to make it vibrant.
“We know the domestic market has few exporters and processors due to high cost of entry in terms of capital requirements giving room for vendors and traders to play the role of aggregating the produce instead of the exporters or processors buying direct from the farmers,” said Chimbayo.
She said for the producers to compete in such market conditions, it is imperative that farmers move from merely being producers to function as traders, processors and even exporters to reap full benefits of pigeon peas production.
Chimbayo said the association plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the governments of Malawi and India which would lead to a reliable market for pigeon peas.
India is the world’s biggest consumer of pigeon peas and it is a market that is yet to be exploited by local pigeon peas farmers.
Government gazetted a minimum farm-gate price of K320 per kilogramme (kg) for pigeon peas but due to overproduction, vendors are buying at a much lower price. A pigeon pea farmer, Joseph Mbewe, said this year there has been an overproduction of the crop with no reliable buyers.
“We are aware that government and the association are advising farmers not to sell below the recommended price of K320, but factors of demand and supply will play their role in stimulating market prices. Therefore, farmers should conduct a market analysis before selling their pigeon peas,” he said.
Chinansi Foundation executive director Simplex Chithyola said they have been organising meetings with support from Christian Aid in view of the fact that the market is disorganised with so many unscrupulous vendors duping farmers.
He said for farmers to benefit this season, the concept of collective marketing needs to be disseminated.
“There are knowledge gaps starting from production, processing as well as marketing which affect quality of production as well as profitability of pigeon peas to the farmer perpetuating the cycle of poverty,” he said.
Chithyola said pigeon peas production can accelerate social economic development for smallholder farmers if well harnessed. n