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Parliament, pigeon peas farmers tussle

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By Jarson Malowa, Contributor:

The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture has trashed Nandolo Farmers Association (NFA)’s claims that its members are keeping tonnes of the crop purportedly because Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) failed to buy their produce.

NFA’s sentiments prompted the committee to tour areas where the crop is cultivated.

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Speaking after touring Mwanza and Neno districts, a representative of the committee, Gerson Solomon, said the committee has discovered that farmers are holding on to less than 2,000 tonnes of the crop.

“The Nandolo Farmers Association told us that their members from the two districts have over 10,000 tonnes of the crop, which is contrary to what we have verified in the areas,” Solomon said.

But NFA Chairperson, Susan Chimbayo, maintained that farmers were denied access to markets.

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“We, as Nandolo Farmers Association, were very proud of the directive from the Head of State that Admarc should buy the crop from us.

“However, what transpired is that farmers were denied access to markets,” Chimbayo said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development’s Director of Planning, Alex Namaona, who is part of the tour, has said some farmers were misled on the issue.

“According to what we have heard in Mwanza and Neno [districts], some farmers were mislead because they thought officials from Admarc would be using a door-to-door strategy which was the opposite of how the process was supposed to be done, where farmers were supposed to go to Admarc depots and sell the crop,” Namaona said.

The tour continues in Blantyre, Zomba, Machinga, Mangochi, Balaka, Phalombe and Mulanje, and the committee is expected to release its report after visiting these areas.

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