Chrissie Mainjeni-Mec Stringer
Some pigeon farmers in Chiradzulu have urged fellow farmers in the country to elect only those leaders who would promote and protect their industry from exploiters, come 2019 polls.
This comes against the background that illegal traders have been ripping off pigeon peas’ farmers by among others, offering very low prices, below government’s minimum set prices.
According to one of the farmers in the district, Mary Chisale, they desperately sell their crop at lower prices to traders because there is no proper market structure as well as protection from their leaders.
“For a long time we have been advocating for protection and better prices but it seems our efforts have yielded nothing,” she said, adding traders do not comply with the minimum set prices because there is no one to enforce them (prices).
Chisale added that currently the crop is fetching MK30.00 per kilogram against government’s minimum set price of MK320.00 per kilogram.
“What can MK30.00 buy these days? It is quite unfortunate to learn that these traders later export outiside the country our crop at high prices, leaving us in dire poverty.
This is why we are appealing to our fellow farmers to tread carefully next year by electing only those leaders who have the interest of farmers at heart,” she stressed.
In concurrence, Enelless Ngwale who is also Malawi Congress Party’s Chairlady in Chiradzulu, said time has come for leaders to realise the importance of agriculture industry in the country.
She added that ‘the agriculture is the backbone of our economy principle’ should not just be a mere rhetoric, saying leaders need to demonstrate that by ensuring that farmers are reaping from their sweat.
“Come 2019, we need to change the status quo by ensuring that all traders who do not comply with the set prices are banned from conducting farm produce business,” she concluded.
Apart from Chiradzulu, pigeon peas is also grown in Mwanza, Neno, Phalombe, Mulanje and Mangochi, among others.