Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has called for the establishment of a farmers regulatory body, christening it the, Agricultural Produce Market Regulatory Authority (APMRA) saying it should be responsible for setting prices and ensuring that farmers’ economic interest are protected.
FUM argued that Malawi Farmers lack bargaining power hence they get duped or cheated by vendors and other unscrupulous traders.
The farmers body made the call during the establishment of FUM district chapter for Mzimba.
FUM President Felix Jumbe noted that Malawi Farmers remain in abject poverty although agriculture contributes 80 percent towards the country’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP).
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture has released the following prices for the farm produce: staple maize is at K35/kg, beans 95/kg, cotton grade A is at K78/kg while grade B is at K63/kg; polished rice is at K90/kg while paddy rice is K60/kg.
Soya is at K70/kg, Paprika grade A is at K230/kg, while grade B is at K200/kg, G/nuts shelled is at K85, unshelled is at K55. Red sorghum is at K60/kg where as white sorghum is pegged at K50 per kg.
“It is even worse because with market liberalization vendors are buying at the prices they wish. There is no enforcement on the government set prices,” he said.
Jumbe said it is against this background that his organization is advocating for the establishment of market regulatory authority.
On the other hand, FUM is urging farmers to form Associations and Cooperatives so that they can benefit from loans and other financial services from the commercial banks in order to maximize production.
“We want farmers to take farming as a business venture. In Cooperatives and Associations, farmers will be linked to credit facilities,” said Jumbe.