Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Henry Mussa has unveiled plans to buy 23,000 metric tons of Nandolo (pigeon peas) from smallholder farmers in Mwanza, Mulanje, Neno, Thyolo, Balaka, Phalombe and other districts through the government’s grain trader, Admarc after President Peter Mutharika’s directive.
Mussa told reporters in Lilongwe that President Muthatika being a “caring leader” made a decision to support smallholder farmers who he said usually struggle to produce the legume (Nandolo).
He said the presidential directive aims to protect farmers from below the recommended price and the measure comes into effect immediately.
“Government will buy this Nandolo at a reasonable price of K230 per kilogram after realizing that these farmers were selling it to vendors at a cheap price. For example in Neno, they were selling at K50 per kg and Phalombe at K40 per kg, which was not fair,” said Mussa.
“Therefore, we are urging all members of the general public to sell their Nandolo to ADMARC, not to vendors,” added Mussa.
Mussa said: “President Mutharika is a caring leader who is committed to continue supporting pigeon pea farmers to boost their income and general welfare. He has also directed the distribution of maize through all Admarc depot.”
Local subsistence farmers sell their pigeon peas to Asian traders in Limbe and Lilongwe who in turn export to South Africa and Tanzania where the legume is either re-traded with Europe and Asia for production of animal feed, spiced snacks and fertilizers.
Asian merchants are notorious for distorting the local market value of pigeon peas as they source it through intermediaries who buy from growers in bulk at a lower price.
This is the first time for the president to intervene on farm gate price of a grain commodity that is not essential to both food security and export revenue strengthening measures of government. India is the world’s major producer of the peas. Malawi’s major export commodity is tobacco, while maize is her staple grain.
Director of Trade, Christina Zakeyu added that after buying Nandolo, ADMARC will add value and they will package it properly before identifying the local buyers to buy the packaged crop.
“It has been an emphasis from the government that we should be adding value to products before selling them,” said Zakeyu.
She added government decided that ADMARC buys Nandolo this time, saying beans have always been there in the markets for so long.