Delays by State prodyuce trader Admarc to buy pigeon peas (Nandolo) have forced some smallholder farmers in Thyolo to sell the legume at K130 per kilograme (kg) to intermediaries instead of the K230/kg President Mutharika directed.
Admarc acting chief executive officer Margret Roka Mauwa declined to comment on the pigeon peas transactions at Luchenza depot.
The CCAP Synod of Livingstonia has asked government to rescind the decision to disburse K5 billion to Admarc to buy pigeon peas (nandolo) from farmers and, instead, use the money to buy medical drugs, hospital equipment and to pay health workers.
Synod general secretary, Reverend Levi Nyondo, said the K5 billion would help to alleviate problems facing the health sector, further advising Capital Hill to learn to set its priorities right.
The Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi (Nfam), a grouping of nandolo (pigeon peas) farmers, called for suspension of the crop’s buying.
In a letter, dated September 17 2018, addressed to principal secretaries (PSs) for ministries of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Industry, Trade and Tourism and Admarc chief executive officer, Nfam chairperson Susan Chimbayo said the immediate buying of the crop by Admarc, with no proper strategies to protect the farmers, is disastrous.
Meanwhile, Tiyuki Pigeon Peas Farmers’ Cooperative from Senior Chief Mkumbira in Nkhata Bay District say they have lost their hope to ending household poverty due to lack of market for their produce.
The cooperative was started in 2016 with eight members from different group village headmen in the area under the supervision of an Agricultural Extension Development Officer (AEDO).
It was aimed at combating household poverty among group members by engaging in farming business. However, the group has been facing challenges in selling their produce.
The cooperative’s chairperson, Morton Chirwa, said they face the same challenge every year.
“It is either the market prices for selling the produce are very low compared to the capital invested in the crop or there are no markets at all.
“We thought by working as a group we would increase the produce and make more money but selling the produce has been an endless challenge with last year’s harvest still in the storage,” Chirwa said.
Chirwa further said the group started off with vigor to enhance their household wellbeing but now the members are not as strong as before.
“Due to lack of preferred markets, we have started growing other crops like cassava, Irish and sweet potatoes to earn some money,” he said.
However, the AEDO for Nsani area, Clara Mandala, said it is important that all group farmers find potential buyers before growing a particular crop to be assured of readily available market for the produce.
“It is quite unfortunate that farmers are faced with such a challenge because everywhere we go, we advise business farmers to have a marketing committee.
“The committee should be responsible for handling marketing issues including finding markets before growing the crop,” Mandala said.
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