By Nellie Kapatuka:
The Nandolo Association of Malawi has called on the government to work on constituting proper market structures for pigeon peas, locally called ‘nandolo’.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Tuesday during a pigeon peas recipe book and animal feed launch by Christian Aid, the associations’ chairperson Susan Chimbayo said lack of properly regulated markets for the crop is dwindling its growth in production.
She observed that despite pigeon peas being deemed a cash crop, it is not given the much needed attention and support as compared to other cash crops like tobacco.
“Most farmers hurry to sell their pigeon peas because most of them do not have conducive places to keep it after aggregation and this is why we are encouraging them to form cooperatives and at the same time asking government to assist in the formulation of proper markets for the benefit of pigeon farmers in the country,” she said.
Chimbayo said the recipe book and animal feed that has been launched will help in the creation of an internal market within the farmers themselves so they can also enjoy the health benefits that the crop presents.
In response, minister of agriculture Lobin Lobe said his ministry is encouraging establishment of cooperatives, associations and clubs through which farmers can partner and sell in bulks to avoid exploitation by vendors.
“If you consider established markets in the country, its only tobacco which has well established markets called auction floors, this is why we came up with a deliberate policy to have farmers aggregate and be in groups and association because that is the only way structured markets can come about,” said Lobe.
He said it is pleasing to note that farmers in the country have shifted their focus to not only producing but also doing value addition.
Christian Aid Global Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Watt, said he is excited to see the ways in which smallholder farmers have been able to organize themselves to demonstrate the opportunities that are there in pigeon peas production.
He said moving up value chains is critical for the country to not only export raw agricultural materials but rather also already processed ones.
Malawi produces about 400,000 metric tonnes of pigeon peas every year with 435,000 per hector being projected for the 2021-2022 agricultural season.