Poor markets amid abundant yield

Despite a lot of farmers growing improved potato varieties in Mulanje, there is an outcry of poor markets.

Pofera: People do not realize the value of these varieties

A recent media tour to Chinakanaka Trading Centre showed vehicles with bags full of sweet potatoes ready to be sold to the people in the informal market.

Most potato farmers have now adopted improved orange fleshed varieties thanks to International Potato Centre (CIP) which is currently implementing a Root and Tuber Crops for Agriculture Transformation (RTC-ACTION) project in Malawi.

One Joyce Pofera from Traditional Authority Chikumbu in the district grows improved variety of orange fleshed sweet potatoes which is high in beta-carotene and vitamin A. However, the informal market is making potato farmers not earn enough.

“These are improved varieties with nutritional values beneficial to the people but they do not realise this and offer lower prices,” said Pofera.

Pofera said a 50 kilogram sack fetches only K5000 which is nothing compared to the cost of living in the village.

CIP’s Market Chain Specialist, Eliya Kapalasa however said the sweet potato farmers are now linked to formal markets for them realise better profits.

“To improve the sweet potato farmers’ welfare, they are connected with markets so that they also realise better retains,” said Kapalasa.

However, a CIP extension officer in Nsikawanjara Extension Planning Area (EPA), John Kazembe said sometimes farmers do not have enough sweet potatoes to suffice what the market demands, therefore, they miss out.

The orange fleshed varieties that the farmers are adopting were bred in Malawi by the Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS).

The RTC-ACTION project is supported by Irish Aid with the objectives to increase productivity, climate resilience and nutritional value of root and tuber crops production system.

The project is also working on other crops like European potato and cassava.

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