Oxfam Malawi and its partners launched a campaign on access to agriculture markets for smallholder farmers yesterday at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe.
According to a statement released yesterday by Oxfam Malawi media and communications coordinator Daud Kayisi, the organisation will run the campaign with the aim of influencing prospective political leaders to make a commitment to provide structured markets, functional Admarc and facilitate the process of formulating a comprehensive agriculture marketing policy by 2015.
According to Kayisi, the campaign is informed by a study Oxfam in Malawi commissioned through Centre for Agriculture Research and Development (Card) of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2013.
“The study report recommends that for smallholder farmers to access profitable agriculture markets, government and key players should provide functional markets, a functional Admarc that is able to respond to market dynamics and a comprehensive standalone agricultural marketing policy,” he said.
In Malawi, it is widely believed that lack of reliable and profitable agriculture markets is one major challenge that continues to negatively affecting smallholder farmers in Malawi.
In the wake of lack of reliable access to market, agriculture experts in the country have lamented that smallholder farmers are losing out huge sums of income as their perishable agriculture produce are left rotting before finding their markets mostly through vendors who offer low prices.
But Kayisi said their campaign will see aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs) and Presidential candidates commit to providing smallholder farmers in Malawi with accessible, sustainable and profitable agricultural markets when they win elections on May 20.
“The aspiring leaders will be asked to sign a pledge card which will be used as evidence of their commitment; thus constituents and Malawians at large, will use the same to remind their elected leaders to prioritise access to agriculture markets issues raised above,” he said.
He said the organisation has invited political Party Secretary Generals, aspiring MPs, development partners, government officials and NGOs working with smallholder farmers to the campaign launch.
In 2009, when Malawi held general elections, Oxfam Malawi did a similar campaign to influence policy makers to prioritise access to medicine and according to Kayisi, the campaign was considered a success in the evaluation report.