11 August 2020
Breaking News
Wednesday, 10 April 2019 05:37

Rice farmers bemoan lack of steady market for their produce

Written by  Wisdom Ngwira
A member of Mkondezi Rice cooperative (in white gumboots),shares insights on how they grow rice-Pic Wisdom Ngwira A member of Mkondezi Rice cooperative (in white gumboots),shares insights on how they grow rice-Pic Wisdom Ngwira

Mzuzu, April 10, 2019: Mkondezi Rice Farmers Cooperative in Nkhata Bay is failing to maximize rice production due to lack of ready and stable market.

The Group, which last year (2018) harvested 57 metric tons of rice, says such huge volume of rice needed a reliable market for farmers to reap what they sowed by keeping middle men out of market desperation.

In an interview when Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division (ADD) toured the area last week, the cooperative’s chairperson, Brenda Mtegha, said farmers relied on secondary schools as its market.

She complained that business with schools limits the farmers’ options for better bargaining.

“Last year, we harvested close to 60 tons, but it was extremely difficult to sell as we did not have a readily available market.

“I am sure if we had ready markets, we could have done better as we would bargain for better prices from the buyers,” said Mtegha.

She said the cooperative tried to court a number of established Super Malls in the country to sell their packed produce but failed short of meeting the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) license requirement.

“We had very fruitful discussions with a number of Shopping Malls in the country as they recommended our rice, but we failed to strike deals since we could not have MBS seals,” she said.

The chairperson disclosed that MBS visited their cooperative for inspection but failed to licence them as their business premises did not have a fence which is a prime requirement.

Mzuzu ADD Programme Manager, Wellington Phewa, advised the cooperative to act with swiftness in making sure they find resources within the cooperative and erect a fence for MBS to accredit the cooperative.

During last year’s harvest of 57 tons of rice, the cooperative managed to raise K21 million from the produce.

Mkondezi Rice farmers cooperative was established in 2008 and has 135 farmers.