The government’s decision to buy pigeon peas (nandolo) from farmers at K230 per kilogramme (kg) has been faulted by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture as lacking focus, considering that the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is not funded yet.
President Peter Mutharika urged pigeon peas farmers to sell their produce to Admarc and avoid intermediaries, according to a statement issued on September 12 signed by Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Ken Ndala.
The statement says government will buy the pigeon peas at K230 per kg, which is K90 less than the circulated minimum price of K320 per kg.
But Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga quashed the directive, saying the same government recently ordered Admarc to buy maize from farmers, but as of now the grain marketor is still not buying the maize.
He said the directive for Admarc to start buying pigeon peas “does not make sense”, saying there are no funds at the corporation.
Malunga, who is also United Transformation Movement (UTM) spokesman , added that the directive will mainly benefit the intermediate buyers who have already bought the pigeon peas from local farmers at much lower prices.
UTM through its leader who is also the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and Secretary General Patricia Kaliati as well acondemned the directive on Saturday during a political rally at Kamwendo in Mchinji.
“Prices of pigeon peas should be allocated during the harvesting period not when farmers have already sold their produce to unscrupulous middlemen. You have bought the pigeon peas from farmers at K40 or K50, you have kept it in your warehouses and now you want to start selling to Admarc at higher prices,” argued Chilima.
It is almost four months after local farmers harvested the pigeon peas.