The Legumes Development Trust (LDT) is appealing for more investments in the legume sector to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
The appeal was made on Monday at a media briefing in Lilongwe ahead of the annual legume stakeholders meeting to be held tommorrow under the theme “Re-energising The Legumes Sector: A Closer Look at the Current and Future Legume Sub-sector”.
LDT chairperson responsible for value chain and markets Vincent Mpaluko commended government for allocating K1.8 billion in the 2019/2020 National Budget for improved legume production, but said more investments are desired for meaningful results.
He said: “Legumes industry is in its infant stage, as much as we appreciate the initiative and recognition by government, we say K1.8 billion is not enough.
“We can only hope that it will be used in the best interest of developing the industry, so that next year, we will have to see the difference on improved production, marketing and value addition”.
Mpaluko observed that there has been a mismatch in the production value chain as oftentimes farmers could produce what the market was not looking for in terms of volumes and quality, while sometimes farmers could produce without ready markets.
Africa Institute for Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) project manager responsible for legume production value chains,SangwaniMakoko, said inclusive approach towards legume production provides greater opportunities for individual farmers and the economy at large.
World University Service of Canada (WUSC) country coordinator Godfrey Mphande said the country has over two million smallholder legume farmers out of which, 60 percent are women who provide 70 percent of labour but face numerous challenges.
He said: “We know that women are involved in legume production but they are marginalised on marketing and value addition issues. We need to bang heads and resolve these issues to ensure balanced and increased incomes through participation at various levels in the legume value chain.
So far, the country’s notable legumes include groundnuts, soya beans, pigeon peas and common beans produced on approximately 804 727 hectares (ha) with an average per capita land holding size of 0.4 ha. Legumes are earmarked by the National Export Strategy (NES) and National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP) as having potential for export as the country seeks to diversify traditional export crops such as tobacco, sugar, tea among others.