Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism says it is working on facilitating the absorption of pigeon peas through investments in value addition as they await to secure a quota from the Indian market.
The ministry’s spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said in a written response on Tuesday that the Indian Government has not been forthcoming because it has sufficient quantities of the crop from last season.
He said the local absorption of pigeon peas still remains in the hands of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), but as a ministry, their main interest is to facilitate value addition.
“As a ministry, our main interest is now to facilitate absorption of the pigeon peas through encouraging investment in value addition for local agro-processing industries that are into production of dahl, which is needed in the Asian market.
“I know some Indian investors who are keen to invest in this under export processing zone scheme,” said Msokera.
In the past two seasons, India has allowed imports of pigeon peas in the region of 200 metric tonnes (MT) per year upon signing a trade agreement with exporting countries. Malawi did not secure a quota on this import cap during the period.
Malawi remains the world’s third largest producer of pigeon peas, exporting an average of 250 000MT annually.
Since India introduced a trade policy on import of Tur Dal in August 2017, Malawi has lost 64 percent in export earnings between 2016 and 2018, according to figures from the High Commission of India.
Malawi exports to India have fallen from $39.3 million (about K29 billion) in 2016/17 to $9.05 million (about K7 billion) in 2017/18, followed by a resurgence in the imports of pigeon peas to $14.32 million (about K10 billion) in the 2018/19 financial year.
Following the closure of the export market in India, Malawi has been left with little to no market outlets for marketing the commodity.
Under pressure and out of desperation, smallholder farmers disposed of their commodity at around K70 per kilogramme (kg) much lower than the government recommended price of K320 per kg.
Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi president Suzan Chimbayo faulted government’s failure to engage the association at the start of the marketing season.
Agricultural expert TamaniNkhono-Mvula said in an interview on Tuesday that Admarc has the capacity to absorb pigeon peas from the market, but there was need for the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to broaden its scope by purchasing other crops other than sticking to maize.
He indicated that with no quota secured for Malawi, there is no way out for the pigeon peas export market.