Pigeon Peas can be a breakthrough for Malawi to boost its foreign exchange earnings if the country explores global market opportunities, it has been noted.
Out of the total production of Pigeon Peas in Africa, Malawi produces the largest quantity with over 200,000 metric tons per year followed by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
However, Malawi has failed to translate the increase in production of Pigeon Peas into dominance in export market with only about 7 percent of the total production exported.
Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and water Development, Geoffrey Ching’oma in an interview with Nyasa Times during a one-day Pigeon Pea Conference in Blantyre, said the crop has potential of complementing tobacco as the country’s major export product.
Tobacco wires in about 60 percent of Malawi’s foreign exchange earnings and contributes about 13 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Legumes have potential to improve the social and economic status of small-scale farmers as well as increase foreign exchange earnings. Malawi exports about 25 percent of its legumes, and currently Pigeon
Pea has market opportunities in countries like India and China,” explained Ching’oma.
Ching’oma said there was a need for Malawi to explore available global markets and increase its Pigeon Peas exportation if the country is to boost its forex reserves.
“Currently Malawi is failing to export more due to among, other things, limited access to technology, farming services and skills; lack of improved seeds and poor marketing strategies as well as lack
of collaboration in the legume sector”.
He disclosed that currently the ministry was working on introducing Contract Farming Strategy through which farmers’ cooperatives and associations will be formed as one way of increasing legume production
and cut-out middle-men and vendors exploiting the market.
And Country manager for Business Innovation Facility (BIF), Jennifer Willis while hailing the country for faring well in terms of pigeon Peas export, noted that Malawi’s seed system is not sophisticated
comparing to neighbouring countries.
“There are several contributing factors as to why Malawi is not exporting more of its Pigeon Peas, which include usage of recycled seeds and poor agricultural practices,” she said.
It was noted during the conference which attracted various players in the Pigeon Pea sector that not much research has been done on pest and disease control management which was attributed to lack of enough
staff in the Department of Agricultural Research Services.
The conference under the theme Enhancing Pigeon Pea Competitiveness in Malawi was organized by African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) with support from Business Innovations Facility in partnership with the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET).
It was aimed at providing a strategic forum for Pigeon Pea stakeholders to discuss the coordination and collaboration arrangements in the industry, as well as proposed models going forward.
The conference also focused on current interventions aimed at promoting competitiveness of the Pigeon Pea industry, existing investment opportunities, market challenges and possible solutions, and on how collaboration and coordination can be stimulated and enhanced in the Pigeon Peas Industry.
The conference attracted seed industry stakeholders, input suppliers, processors and exporters from both the public and private sectors, farmers’ organizations, relevant government departments, and the donor