By Patience Lunda:
Farmers have singled out delays to open Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) satellite depots as one of the factors that forces them to defy the government’s farm gate prices.
Lead farmer Patricia Mkandawire, from Bwengu Extension Planning Area in Mzimba District, said most farmers sell crops at give-away prices because they lack markets.
The sentiments were raised when Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa) and African Institute of Corperate Citizenship (AICC) organised a meeting to assess the adoption rate of farm gate prices in districts.
“Of course, we have bylaws but many farmers don’t comply with them because formal markets take long to open.
“Sometimes, Admarc lets us down because it runs out of money before we, farmers, have sold our produce to its officers,” Mkandawire said.
AICC Projects Officer, Chawezi Mukhuta Banda, encouraged farmers to form cooperatives to increase their bargaining power.
“We have noticed that enforcement has been poor and that is why we are encouraging them to do organised farming because farmers have an advantage on the market, unlike being a single farmer,” he said.
Cepa Project Officer, Tionge Chirwa, said her organisation was committed to raising awareness on farm gate prices.
Research that Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Approach Programme conducted in 2018 identified limited markets and low farm gate prices for farmers as some of the problems that demotivate crop producers.