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Cisanet asks government to protect farmers

Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet), a non-governmental organisation advocating best agricultural practices in the country, has challenged the government and other stakeholders to develop sustainable solutions to challenges facing pigeon pea farmers.

In position paper on pigeon pea production the network released Tuesday, Cisanet says the government should coordinate the processes in the value chain, saying, this far, its interventions have to a greater extent benefitted middlemen and traders who had the crop, at the expense of farmers.

It further says there was lack of proper mechanisms to ensuring that poor smallholder farmers are given priority to access available markets.

“We recommend [that] the government must continuously engage the government of India to secure a quota for exporting pigeon peas and stakeholders, both public and private, should intensify deliberate efforts for increasing local consumption of Pigeon peas, by introducing pigeon pea consumption in schools, prisons and hospitals and using it in disaster response programmes,” the paper reads.

It further notes that the Pigeon pea market is worsened by policy and structural weaknesses including poor enforcement of minimum farm gate prices, poor storage facilities and over dependence on the export market.

This comes against a background that India, the main importer of the crop, produced a surplus in 2016/17 and 2017/18 growing seasons which necessitated an import cap leaving the majority of farmers in Malawi stranded, with no market.

In September 2018, the government moved in to procure the crop from the farmers at K230 per kilogramme. However, many had already sold their commodity to traders at an average price of K150 per kilogramme.

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