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AHCX challenges smallholder farmers

The AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX) has challenged small scale farmers in the country to seize the opportunities which the exchange is offering for them to boost their agricultural productivity and better their lives.

General Manager for AHCX David Manyenje said this on Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Daily Times soon after attending a Business Forum session, one of the events of the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta.

Malawi’s economy is agro-based and government records show that up to 80 percent of farmers in the country are small scales ones.

This regardless, experts say these farmers suffer the most in terms of accessing markets that could offer them better returns for their produce, a situation which leaves them in perpetual poverty and unable to expand, be competitive and be able to bargain for better payments for their produce.

Manyenje said the existence of the AHCX since three years ago offers farmers in Malawi a great opportunity for them to have bargaining power and grow their agricultural production.

“The commodities exchange has arrived to give our small scale farmers a fair, competitive and transparent market in which they can negotiate a fair price for their produce. This is a chance for such farmers to grow,” said Manyenje.

He added that the exchange was helping to plant in the minds of such farmers the idea to venture into a commercial farming for them to become more profitable and improve their livelihood.

Manyenje said: “We are also preparing them to become better, profitable and strategic farmers. Ahead of the production season, we advise farmers on what commodities are in demand on the exchange, so that they decide what crop to plant and in what quantities.”

He also indicated that through the AHCX, Malawian farmers stood a better chance to make significant inroads into the Commonwealth market which boasts 2.2 billion people and a combined GDP of US$9.6 trillion in 2013.

Manyenje said AHCX was geared to tap into opportunities existing in the Commonwealth market.

“There is g rowing emphasis on value addition as part of investment drive by the government. AHCX is saying investors in the area of value addition should come to Malawi well assured that they have readily available raw materials through an organised market in the form of the exchange,” he said.

The AHCX describes itself as a marketplace where buyers and sellers can trade in commodities with an assurance on quality, delivery and payment.

It says it is “committed to ensure that the market is assisted with a modern market institution that brings in much needed integrity, by providing a guarantee mechanism, for the quality, quantity and payments.”

The CHOGM 2015 is being held under the theme “Adding Global Value”.

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