Malawi, India sign pact for pigeon peas exports

Pigeon peas farmers in Malawi have every reason to smile following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) the Malawi Government has signed with the Government of India in which Malawi is expected to export 50, 000 metric tonnes of the crop to India annually for the next five years.

The Indian High Commissioner to Malawi, Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan, and Malawi’s Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, signed the deal at a brief ceremony that took place at the ministry’s headquarters in Lilongwe today.

In his remarks, Gopalakrishnan said the major objective of the agreement is to promote trade of pigeon peas between India and Malawi.

Gopalakrishnan and Gwengwe signing the memorandum of understanding–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

“The trade of pigeon peas through this MoU will not only meet the domestic requirement of India, but also find a ready and reliable market for Malawi. This will also help Malawi in reducing the gap in the balance of trade between the two countries,” said the ambassador.

Gopalakrishnan indicated that the agreement might be extended beyond five years if the two countries feel the need to do so.

He assured that his government would ensure a human-centric approach to doing business with Malawi.

Gopalakrishnan and Gwengwe exchange the signed memorandum of understanding–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Gwengwe described the MoU as timely since the Government of Malawi is engaged in a number of trade facilitation initiatives in export diversification as well as commercialization of agriculture.

He said the agreement will pave the way for an increase in the quantity of pigeon peas and processing of Toor Dhal traded between Malawi and India.

“My ministry, therefore, sees this MoU as a stepping stone towards more collaboration in the areas such as provision of technical support in agricultural extension services, research and production of seeds; support in Quality Assurance and Standardization.

“It is of strategic importance that we are strengthening our cooperation and collaboration with the Government of India knowing very well that we will tap the knowledge and advanced technology in production which are critical for Malawi to compete globally and sustain the demands of the international market,” he said.

Gwengwe further stated that Malawi also stands to benefit from competitive international market prices that the Indian market would be offering and thereby diversifying sources of foreign exchange for our economy.

He said securing India as a reliable market for pigeon peas would encourage sustainable production for the commodity thereby improving the livelihoods of our local farmers.

However, Gwengwe emphasized that the objectives of the MoU is to promote trade through active cooperation between the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Malawi and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution of the Republic of India.

He said much as it is Government-to-Government signing the MoU, the key player in the deal is the private sector, particularly, the farmers and the processors, amongst others.

“As Government, we are there to provide a conducive business environment for the private sector to thrive. Let me; therefore, urge the private sector in Malawi to take this opportunity seriously. Through this memorandum, the ministry would like to see continuation of joint efforts between Malawi’s private sector in pigeon peas and the private sector in India,” said the minister.

President of the Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi Susan Chimbayo expressed excitement with the agreement, saying it will improve the social and economic livelihoods of the farmers whom she said have been under the yoke of poor prices of their produce.

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