‘Rice could earn Malawi billions’
The National Rice Development Platform (NRDP) on Wednesday hosted a national rice marketing conference and fair in Lilongwe as part of efforts to promote and develop competitive rice value chains in Malawi.
Participants to the fair observed that Malawi is losing potential revenue from the crop because of low productivity and lack of structures to market the crop.
NRDP national coordinator, David Kamchacha, said even though there are over 600,000 hectares of land available in Malawi which can be used for rice production only a fraction of that land is being exploited for rice production.
“The country is failing to take advantage of demand despite the capacity to produce more. We are currently working on some measures to put up some structures for the production and marketing of rice,” said Kamchacha.
He said Malawi currently only produces less than 150,000 metric tonnes of rice per annum.
Most of the farmer groups that brought their rice during the fare testified that they are grappling with lack of markets and exploitation by some buyers including foreign who take time or fail to pay for the supplied rice volumes.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Trade Criff Chinunda corroborated, saying that the country’s major problem on rice is production volumes, saying government is working with partners to ensure production is increased for increased export volumes.
“We recognise the issue of production as very critical but also packaging by some farmers who do value add. In some cases the quality is not up to standard for export but all these challenges are being addressed by government and partners through several programmes underway,” said Chinunda.
The farmers who displayed their different rice varieties were also connected to some markets with several buyers available at the event.
NRDP was established to coordinate efforts to increase production of rice while linking farmers to markets for maximum productivity.