Soya and groundnut farmers across Malawi may have themselves to blame if they do not make a killing out of their crop this season after major processors offered to buy the produce at the most competitive price.
The processors, who among others include Rab Processors, Estrell Trading Company, Afrinut, Exagris, Agriculture Commodity Exchange, and Sunseed Oil, made the commitment in Dedza on Thursday when they met with some of farmers’ associations in the district to offer market alternatives over vendors.
They were part of a Buyers’ Tour organized by Feed the Future Malawi-Integrating Nutrition in Value Chains (FtF-INVC) Project whose purpose is to help the private sector appreciates the quality of the crop available while ensuring that farmers have the opportunity to negotiate better prices for their products.
Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global initiative to sustainably reduce poverty and hunger. In Malawi the initiative focuses on improving the lives of rual communities in the seven districts of Balaka, Mangochi, Mchinji, Machinga, Lilongwe, Ntcheu and Dedza.
One of the project’s initiatives is to provide support to and facilitation of expanding access to markets for smallholder farmers involved in the growing of soy and groundnut which are two key value chain crops it is promoting for their nutrition values.
The Buyers’ Tour is part of INVC’s value chain component to make sure that after practicing modern farming technologies through the project, farmers have access to good markets of their choice other than depending on vendors.
Speaking at Chikafumbwa Agricultural Extension Planning Area in the district, leader of the processors on the tour YamikaniJassi – Project Manager for Sunseed Oil Limited – said processors are ready to buy all the soy and groundnut available.
“All we require of you is to work as a team. Let us discuss prices between company and association. We want you to be happy because we rely on you but you must also give us quality products,” said Jassi whose company last year bought 40,000 metric tons of soy and is this year looking for a staggering 180,000 metric tons.
According to government figures, Malawi last year only managed to produce 110,000 metric tons of soy bean – not enough for even a single company.
Jassi, whose company also does contract farming, urged the farmers to work as a group, saying processors cannot buy from individual farmers because they are looking for huge quantities.
Managing Director for Estrell Limited, manufacturer of peanut butter and groundnut flour Cecilia Rice, said she was looking for over 20,000 metric tons and that she would buy on cash basis.
“Where is your groundnut; bring it forth and I am ready to match any price any vendor may offer,” she said. Currently, groundnut is selling at MK1,200 per kilogramme.
One processor said their company had earmarked MK530 million for groundnut alone, another suggested close to US$10million, and another MK500million.
INVC’s Value Chains Specialist, Henry Gaga bringing farmers and buyers together inspires confidence in both parties and provides an opportunity for both sides to appreciate the challenges they meet.
“We want you to discuss and share contacts and most importantly, we want smallholder farmers earn more from their crop,” Gaga said.
He, however, warned against selling all their soy and groundnut, saying that is not the entire purpose of the project.
“First, keep enough for your families and only sell the surplus. The US and Malawi governments are very concerned about the nutrition statuses of your households and that is why INVC is encouraging the growing of these crops for their nutrition values,” he said.
Gaga said the two crops have potential to boost household incomes and nutrition statuses if farmers exercise modern technologies which INVC are promoting such as double row planting.
The farmers expressed their excitement at meeting users of their produce and promised to market their produce as a group.
“We are happy because we can choose who we want to sell to; whether these companies. The price will determine whom we sell to,” said one of the farmers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :