Some farmers in Chikwawa district have complained of lack of competitive markets for their livestock resulting into lower prices.
The situation is said to be pushing them into prolonged poverty.
The farmers we spoke to said this is as a result government’s decision to restrict buyers from other districts leaving the farmers with no option, but to sell their livestock to same buyers who impose lower prices.
They said they only have two buyers who buy their cattle on the range of K80, 000 and K150, 000 compared to a competitive price range of K200, 000 and K400, 000 in other parts.
The demotivated farmers made the outcry when Minister of Agriculture, Francis Kasaila, visited the district to appreciate livestock production in the district.
“When they come, they just impose prices on us, they never discuss with us, we just accept because of poverty,” said one of the farmers, Pearson Phiri from Traditional Authority Katunga in the district.
He challenged the government to open the market so that any willing buyer should be able to offer competitive prices.
Responding to the complaints, Kasaila said the government will to find a solution to the challenges and will also discuss with the farmers to find the best possible solution.
“We are aware of the problem, at the moment we are working towards finding a solution to this challenge, I am sure farmers will see a difference,” he said.
Kasaila further encouraged farmers not to lose hope but practice livestock farming and find best ways of adding value to their produce.
The minister also visited Majoti Ranch owned by George Mankhwala where among other livestock there are 121 cattle and 292 goats.
The ranch is under NyamaYadidi Cooperative which was founded in 2015 and has 87 farmers.
Meanwhile, Kasaila said the government through the Agricultural Development Market Corporation will also continue buying cotton from farmers who are also facing challenges in finding markets.
Mathews Kasanda is a Journalist who has recently joined Times Group Newsroom as an Intern. He is an outstanding media practitioner and in 2014, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.