As debate on low rice output against potential global markets continues, growers have spelt out challenges hindering them to meet the global market demand.
Last week, the African Institute on Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) held a series of meetings with rice growers and other players to create a platform for value chain planning, production and marketing of the crop locally and abroad.
Growers from various schemes nationwide blame unavailability and cost of certified seeds as some of the reasons for low rice output.
Boris Nyirenda, chairperson for Mphinga Cooperative in Vinthukutu Extension Planning Area and a member of Water Users Association (WUA) in Karonga, said many farmers find problems with accessing required seeds because they are sold far away from their respective schemes.
Alternatively, he said farmers use recycled seeds which result in low yield and compromised quality of the produce.
“It is true that we have a lot of land onto which we can grow rice for export, but we have major challenges in the country.
“On top of that, there is lack of certified seeds which produce
more yield and high quality of the commodity.”
In addition, he said available seeds are expensive, forcing farmers to use recycled and uncertified seed.
During a meeting held in Mzuzu on Thursday, many farmers proposed that government should create a deliberate policy to ensure that seed multiplication is done locally to enhance availability of certified seed to all farmers.
According to Aicc rice project officer Leonard Chimwaza, many farmers in the Central and Southern regions said there is insufficient seed supplies which is leading farmers to plant recycled seed on top of promoting varieties that do not grow well in targeted rice schemes.
A member of Hara Cooperative in Karonga, Peter Msomphola, said the rice sector is not developed because demand of the commodity is getting lower following volumes of rice getting into Malawi from Tanzania.
Figures from Aicc show that rice export between 2011 and 2015 reduced although the country produced more in 2015.
In 2015, Malawi produced 125 156 metric tonnes while in 2014 it produced 110 964 metric tonnes.
On imports, Malawi received 2 861 metric tonnes in 2015 which was almost triple the 310 751 metric tonnes in 2012 and 2011 respectively.