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NRDP for intensified rice marketing, production

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National Rice Development Platform (NRDP) has reiterated the need for the government to intensify efforts in eradicating intermediaries and ensure rice farmers access formal markets to develop the industry.

In an interview at the weekend NRDP Chairperson, Kingsley Masamba, said rice farmers face barriers to access formal markets and have sold most of their crop to intermediaries at low prices.

He observed that returns on rice production for the smallholder farmers can be maximised when both price and yield are optimal.

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“While every effort is being made to improve the yield, the price factor remains a key determinant of the smallholder farmers’ decision to invest in the crop, and hence the area planted and eventually the aggregate national production.

“For many farmers, it is important that the marketing and pricing conflicts should be resolved to the satisfaction of both the rice buyers and the producers,” Masamba said.

Commenting on the farm gate prices released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Masamba said they are contented.

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Government set a K600 per kilogram (kg) minimum price for polished rice while minimum price for unpolished rice was set at K280 per kg.

Last year polished rice was fetching a minimum price of K550 per kg while unpolished rice was at K250 per kg.

In a separate interview agribusiness expert, Leonard Chimwaza, lamented weak enforcement measures by both public and private sector players.

He stressed the need for concerted efforts in all the market places and aggregation centers.

“Local structures like Area Stakeholder Panels, the Community Police Forums and Village Agriculture Committees should be vigilant in ensuring that all commodity buyers are adhering to the government set minimum prices. Farmers should sell rice through cooperatives and associations,” Chimwaza said.

In the past 20 years, rice production in Malawi has increased from 60,000 tonnes to nearly 180,000 tonnes due to expansion of area under rice cultivation from 30,000 to 70,000 hactares.

Average yield has also increased from 2,005 kgs per hectares to 5,000 kgs per hectare.

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