As a key player on Malawi’s agricultural market, AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX) was once again a significant participant at this year’s National Agricultural Fair which took place from Thursday September 8 to Saturday September 10, 2016 in Blantyre.
The uniqueness of AHCX as a modern market for agricultural commodities continued to attract a lot of attention and visits to its stand at the fair.
Of course the stand was also impressively decorated with a creative blend of AHCX’s corporate colours and commodity displays in different packages, which included traditional clay pots, bamboo woven trays and hessian sacks.
AHCX Trade and Investment Manager, Daniel Chilima, said visitors to the AHCX pavilion were largely in two parts; those who had dealt with the exchange before and those who had not.
“We had lots of farmers and traders who had traded through us coming to inquire about market trends and prices. Then there were those who had no idea about what we do and wanted to know what we are,” said Chilima.
“Some of them actually wanted to buy the small packets of groundnuts and beans on display at the stand because they thought our business is to sell the commodities to consumers,” said Chilima.
Chilima said AHCX was at the fair in fulfillment of its key objective of providing information to stakeholders on the commodities market.
He said the fair was also an opportunity for AHCX to increase awareness levels about its functions.
“Through the fair, we have had a chance to interact with our existing and prospective customers as well discuss challenges and solutions to problems to do with agricultural production and marketing,” said Chilima.
Ellen Kalembo, 51, is a lead farmer from Kantumbila Village, T/A Ndindi in Salima. She is part of Bwemba Farmers’ Club which consists of 16 model farmers from her area.
She visited the AHCX stand at the fair, looking for markets for the group’s produce.
“As a group, we are able to produce 200 to 300 bags of pigeon peas and soya per season. The challenge we always experience is finding steady and reliable markets for our commodities,” said Kalembo.
“We want a trustworthy commodity market. We have been using traders and all they do is steal from us,” Kalembo added
She narrated her predicament when she visited the AHCX stand at the fair.
Members of Bwemba Club travelled all the way from Salima specifically for the fair in a quest to find a solution to their predicament. They visited the AHCX stand in search for answers.
AHCX Limbe Warehouse Manager, Pike Ng’oma – who attended to members of the club, explained that the exchange was an opportunity for farmers to start benefiting from the fruits of their work in the field.
He said through warehouses it operates in various locations of the country, AHCX provides farmers with a steady and reliable market for their commodities.
Ng’oma took time to explain to the farmers processes they go through to sell their commodities through the exchange, saying it starts at the warehouse.
“Once a farmer deposits the commodities at the warehouse, they are handed a receipt and the commodities are later auctioned through the exchange with payments settled through banks upon completion of the transaction.
The auctioning system favours farmers as it allows buyers to compete in acquiring commodity, thereby ensuring that depositors get the maximum prices for their produce, he said.
The process, said Ng’oma, also provides a secure and modern market for the farmers, freeing them from the dangers of transacting with vendors who sometimes steal from them through exploitative prices.
AHCX is a marketplace where buyers and sellers transact trade of commodities with assurance on quality, delivery and payment.
It is a modern market institution that brings in much needed integrity, by providing a guarantee mechanism, for the quality, quantity and payments.
AHCX is a fully electronic market, bringing in transparency and empowering the farmers by disseminating market information in real time to all market players.