11 August 2020
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Thursday, 11 April 2019 05:07

Agriculture ministry explains farm gate price delays

Written by  Yamikani Sabola
A Malawian farmer A Malawian farmer

Lilongwe, April 11, 2019: A top official in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development says issuance of 2019/2020 farm gate prices has delayed because the ministry was conducting extensive consultations with various stakeholders.

The ministry’s Agri-business officer Japhet Zingani said the consultations were made to ensure that the prices are realistic and reasonable to both farmers and buyers.

Zingani was speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday during a meeting on agricultural commodity marketing which attracted various stakeholders including farmers, agro-dealers, government officials and civil society representatives.

“Normally, farm gate prices are released in February, before farmers start harvesting their farm produce.

“This year, however, there has been a delay because the ministry has been engaging various stakeholders for their input,” he said.

He was reacting to concerns by some farmers and agro-dealers who expressed displeasure with the delay saying farmers in some areas had already started selling their farm produce especially beans.

Zingani, however, cautioned famers against rushing into selling their agricultural commodities, saying they should instead store them and sell later when prices on the market improve.

He made an assurance that the prices will be released soon.

Zingani said farmers are failing to realise optimum returns from their toil because they tend to sell their agricultural produce soon after harvesting, when prices are very low.

He, therefore, advised the farmers to utilise warehouses which the Ministry of Agriculture built in strategic places in different districts across the country.

“We have warehouses in several districts but most of them are just lying idle because farmers are not using them.

“Some of these structures are instead being used by chiefs and other community leaders to conduct their meetings,” he said.

On his part, Chief Executive Officer for Legumes Exports Challenge Account Buthelezi Sichali advised farmers to thoroughly grade their produce to improve its quality.

Sichali said some farmers do not grade their commodities which forces buyers to offer low prices to compensate for costs of grading the produce on their own.

Trafford Masaula, a farmer from Dowa, asked stakeholders including the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) to be vigilant during the selling season to protect farmers from vendors who buy farm produce using manipulated weighing scales.

The meeting was organised by Africa Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC) and Centre for Environmental Policy (CEPA) with funding from the Norwegian Government through Development Fund (DF).