Pigeon peas farmers and other stakeholders have differed on the proposal to regulate prices as one way of hedging against exploitation from unscrupulous traders.
Speaking on the sidelines of African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) Pigeon Peas Price Trends Consultative Meeting in Blantyre on Thursday, Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi president Susan Chimbayo expressed dissatisfaction with the current price trends, saying price regulation is key to good prices.
She said: “It is sad that farmers are getting as low as K180 per kilogramme [kg], especially in the rural areas where traders are taking advantage of the vulnerable farmers. This is despite the fact that they are also duping the farmers by using fake scales.
“As farmers, we feel the best way out is to introduce price regulation in the sector. We grow pigeon peas, but we are not consulted when they are setting up the prices.”
But Aicc executive director Felix Lombe downplayed the proposal to regulate prices, saying the country has not reached a level where market intervention is necessary.
“Price regulation happens in a situation where demand is stable and also because you want to ensure that production is further stimulated, you come in and regulate the price so that the amount of money farmers are getting is not affected,” he said.
Lombe urged farmers to operate in groups or cooperatives to have direct access to markets.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi, in an interview, said it is difficult for government to regulate pigeon peas prices, adding that there are so many cash crops that fall in the same category.
“The best way is for us to monitor what is happening to make sure that imperfections in the market are not tolerated, but [price] regulation is a bit strong,” he said.
Statistics provided by Aicc indicate that 65 percent of the pigeon peas produced is consumed on-farm, 25 percent is exported and 10 percent is traded on the domestic markets. n