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Marketing challenges impoverishing farmers

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The inability of farmers to produce enough volumes to satisfy demand on the market and the absence of structured markets where farmers can sell their produce at a value that would incentivize them to continue producing is being cited as some of the key challenges impeding development of agriculture in Malawi.

Although agriculture is considered the golden egg of the Malawi economy, an agriculturalist says Malawi needs to address these marketing challenges which have created a vicious circle of poverty among farmers as those with the right quantities of goods lack access to structured markets while others lack capacity to produce desirable quantities to satisfy demand on the market.

At a session on agriculture in Nairobi, Akiwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, said African farmers have been unable to feed the continent because they are not motivated to farm as a way of creating wealth.

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In Africa, the AfBD boss argued, farmers may grow crops and get good yields, but they fail to get markets earning losses despite growing a promising crop.

Adesina was speaking at a side symposium during the just ended Tokyo International Conference on African Development which took place in Nairobi, Kenya.

Reacting to Adesina’s comments, Chief Executive Officer of the Farmer’s Union of Malawi, Prince Kapondamgaga said most farmers in Malawi have limited resources for production and have to rely on borrowed equity but have no assurance of finding reliable markets for their crops.

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Kapondamgaga said the situation poses a risk to the economy as many farmers are forced to abandon farming as they are unable to even earn enough returns to invest back into production for the next growing season.

“We need to work on volumes and quality of our produce. It’s the same issues that have affected our tobacco markets. Our tobacco is being rejected because it is not of the right quality. All these issues have a bearing on the economy and some of the effects have long term impact,” he said.

Adesina said aligning Africa’s markets will unleash the potential of Africa’s agriculture. He called a phenomenon where farmers get good yield but face low prices due to a glut as the “greening of the economy.”

He argued that despite such glut, the African economies suffer because they cannot store the food and in turn import food from outside, spending $110 billion every year.

About 80 percent of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas and relies on agriculture for their income.

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