The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture has described government’s decision to buy pigeon peas (nandolo) from farmers at K230 per kilogramme (kg) as ill-timed.
Committee chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga described the directive as lacking focus, considering that the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is not funded yet.
He said: “The same government recently ordered Admarc to buy maize from farmers, but as we speak now, Admarc is still not buying the maize. Now, to tell Admarc to start buying pigeon peas does not make sense because clearly there are no funds at the corporation.”
In a statement issued on September 12 signed by Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Ken Ndala, President Peter Mutharika urged pigeon peas farmers to sell their produce to Admarc and avoid intermediaries.
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.
Malunga added that the directive will mainly benefit the intermediate buyers who have already bought the pigeon peas from local farmers at much lower prices.
Speaking on Saturday during a political rally at Kamwendo in Mchinji at a rally, United Transformation Movement (UTM) leader and the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima also criticised the directive, saying it will benefit intermediaries.
He argued: “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.”
The government directive to start buying pigeon peas comes almost four months after local farmers harvested the pigeon peas.
Malawi ‘s global market share of pigeon peas accounts for about six percent followed by Kenya which contributes two percent. India is the largest producer of pigeon peas at 70 percent.