Lilongwe — An official in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has said issuance of 2019/2020 farm gate prices has delayed.
The delay has come about because the Ministry was conducting extensive consultations with various stakeholders to ensure that the prices are realistic and reasonable to both farmers and buyers.
Agri-business Officer in the Ministry, Japhet Zingani said this Friday in Lilongwe but however made an assurance that the prices would be released soon.
He was speaking 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, there has been a delay because the Ministry has been engaging various stakeholders for their input," Zingani pointed out.
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 cautioned famers against rushing into selling their agricultural commodities, saying they should instead store them and sale later when prices on the market improve.
He observed that farmers are failing to realise optimum returns from their toil because they have a tendency to sell their agricultural produce soon after harvesting, when prices are very low.
The Officer 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.
Chief Executive Officer for Legumes Exports Challenge Account, Buthelezi Sichali advised farmers to thoroughly grade their produce to improve its quality.
He 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.
A farmer from Dowa, Trafford Masaula asked relevant stakeholders including the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) to be vigilant during the selling season to protect farmers from unscrupulous vendors who buy farm produce in communities 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).