With days drawing closer to the national agriculture fair, some farmers say they will miss out this year, citing hard economic times.
The annual fair, organised by the Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) and the Ministry of Agriculture, is slated for Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds from August 23 to 25.
While recognising the importance of the fair, Mercy Butao of Ngolowindo Cooperative Society in Salima, said she has always attended the fair, but this year she will not make it due to rising costs.
“The fair is important as we find new markets, learn new trends and also find proper links. But this year, we have nothing to take to the fair. Our irrigation pumps broke down. The cost of repairing has soared heavily and we have not been able to repair it. We have nothing to take to the fair,” said Butao.
Another farmer, Stanley Thandiya of Mwanzaâ€™s Zipatso Association said he has been hit by the rising costs and the forex shortages a few months ago.
“We package tangerine and orange juice in bottles we get from abroad. We have not been able to get the bottles for the past few months due to forex shortages. I wish we could go, but we cannot make it,” said Thandiya.
But MCCCIâ€™s Natasha Kalea, who is managing the fair, said they cannot say if the economic woes can keep farmers away. She said they expected over 80 exhibitors. Last year, the fair had 83 pavilions.