Experts differ on rice promotion


Rice marketing experts are divided in opinion on what the country should do to promote production and marketing of the crop which they agree has the potential to earn the country significant foreign exchange.

A recent publication on rice production and marketing by the Africa Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC) dubbed the Rice Outlook, notes that the rice market in Malawi is mostly dominated by middlemen as there is no structured market for the commodity.

It further indicates that in some rice schemes, Cooperatives have been acting as platforms for aggregation and marketing of rice where majority have inadequate storage and milling facilities which force farmers to sell their unpolished rice to the vendors.


“There is no effective and efficient price setting mechanisms in place resulting in the vendors exploiting farmers on prices. In inefficiency comes in due to lack of knowledge on the recently released rice standards,” reads the publication in part.

In an interview rice marketing expert, Leonard Chimwaza, stressed that there is need to have structured markets and ensure good innovativeness throughout the whole value chain.

“Farmers need to sell rice through established outlet markets and mechanisation of the value chain processes. In order to be successful, mechanising the whole value chain must be tailored in order to enable rice farmers to adjust and adopt suitable technologies for their farm businesses.


“The type of mechanisation shall be tailored to local conditions and needs. The devised mechanisation strategies shall be inclusive in order to provide benefits to the rice cooperatives and associations,” Chimwaza said.

Mtalimanja Holdings Limited Managing Director, David Kamchacha, said there is need to address challenges facing the industry currently such as low production and quality control.

“The export market is there but first they need consistency for example at Mtalimanja we have an order of 100,000 tons and there is demand for industrial rice so what we need in Malawi is a deliberate policy to invest in rice production.

“We need to be serious with quality control if we say this is Kilombero it should be pure Kilombero not mixed with anything else this will give us the results we want. We have had the structured markets nothing happened and some of the rice that was exported via the structured markets was sent back because of poor quality control,” Kamchacha said.

The National Agriculture Investment Plan put rice as second strategic food crop after maize which accounts for 60 percent of the cultivated land.

In Malawi, rice is largely produced by small to medium subsistence farmers scattered along the lakeshores and the Shire Valley areas.

In recent years, farmers have also started producing rice in upland due to the coming in of upland rice varieties such as Nerica 3 and Nerica 4.

In the 2018/2019 season, production of rice registered 15.2 million tons representing an 8.1 percent increase which experts attributed to favorable weather conditions, use of certified seeds, adoption of the Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI) and proper employment of the good agriculture practices among others.

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