Prices for pigeon peas have gone up by an average of 180 percent in recent weeks to K280 per kilogramme (kg), figures from the Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi (NFAM), an umbrella body of the commodity’s growers in the country, has shown.
In a response to an emailed questionnaire, NFAM President, Susan Chimbayo, attributed the price rise to removal of a provisional quota for importation of the commodity by the Indian government from June this year.
Chimbayo said the decision has escalated demand for pigeon peas.
She, however, lamented failure by farmers to organise themselves to offer substantial volumes, lean financial capacity and lack of effective market information system to guide their business decisions.
“Just this season alone, NFAM secured more than three huge markets demanding more than 50,000 metric tonnes of pigeon peas each which simply indicates the promising market outlook for pigeon peas and, with much needed investments, the pigeon pea sub-sector is likely to improve in the interim. The sector requires substantial investments in training, research and manufacturing to increase value-addition.
“Recently, NFAM has gone restructuring and registered a subsidiary company called Nandolo Trading Company (NTC) which is mandated to purchase pigeon peas from its member-farmers. NTC will continue to advance and secure financing to purchase pigeon peas from its farmers, consequently transferring market risk from its farmers[to itself],” Chimbayo said.
Chimbayo added that deliberate efforts needed to be advanced to strengthen group cohesion through contract farming coupled with research in marketing and value-addition.
She said this would create and stimulate local consumption.
Chimbayo also urged the government and stakeholders in the agriculture production chain to work together with well-defined roles to create a vibrant pigeon peas sub-sector.
In March this year, India re-established an import quota for dry peas for one year from April 1 2019 to March 31 2020 in which 150,000 metric tonnes of dried peas will be allowed for import.
However, the amount represents only 5 percent of India’s imports of dry peas in 2017, which stood at 3.1 million metric tonnes.
In August 2017, India, which is the largest market for pigeon peas, imposed quotas on the crop moving it from free to the restricted category of imports, affecting the government’s plan to ramp up production of the crop as part of its wider diversification strategy.
Last year, the then minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said the government had allocated K5 billion from the Unforeseen Expenditure vote of the 2018/19 national budget to buy 23 000 metric tonnes of pigeon peas from local farmers although there was no ready market.
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