Two months after the Indian government imposed an import cap on pigeon peas (nandolo), the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) has turned to United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates for the crop’s market.
Mitc chief executive officer Clement Kumbemba said in an interview yesterday that the one-stop trade platform is working on getting best prices for the pigeon peas farmers, at a time prices of the crop have crashed to around K40 per kilogramme (kg) from a high of K700 per kg two years ago.
“We have a lot of markets in the UK and we have been meeting people who would even buy as much as 200 000 tonnes and in Dubai [United Arab Emirates], we have had over 15 buyers but some have been discounted because their price offers are not as attractive.
“We are talking to a few that seem to be offering something reasonable,” said Kumbemba.
An official from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism yesterday said government has found a market for 60 000 tonnes of pigeon peas in the UK and Dubai, a development which they say would provide relief to farmers.
In view of the import cap in India, the world’s largest market for pigeon peas, local farmers have become so desperate and are disposing of the crop at much lower prices to unscrupulous buyers.
AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX), a fair and transparent platform to trading commodities, is one platform farmers use to sell their pigeon peas.
AHCX communications manager Thom Khanje yesterday said while they are also trying to explore new markets in the wake of the development in India, they hope to be engaged as a trading platform if government finds new markets.
“We hope the exports will be transacted through AHCX to avail the opportunity to many farmers, ensure transparency and track export proceeds,” he said.
The Indian government had placed an import cap to protect local prices following a record production and it said in the fiscal year running from April to March, traders can import no more than 200 000 tonnes of the commodity.
According to Times of India, the country has already imported 160 000 tonnes of the commodity and 40 000 tonnes landed at the end of August, which leaves no space for new import contracts.
In the current fiscal plan, government indicated its desire to ramp up production of pigeon peas as part of its wider diversification strategy to supplement foreign exchange earnings from tobacco, whose proceedshave been on the downward spiral for the past five years.
Malawi exports an average 100 000 tonnes of pigeon peas to India valued around $60 million (about K44 billion) a year. n