The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) has called for value-addition in pigeon peas (nandolo) farming, describing it as key to rataining the commodity’s prominence on the market.
Speaking in an interview after briefing the press in Blantyre on Tuesday, Aicc chief executive officer Felix Benson Lombe said the commodity rose to prominence for a short while, but has since lost the status owing to a number of circumstances.
“We have not invested in value-addition, meaning that we can only export raw materials as opposed to exporting processed pigeon peas,” he said.
Lombe attributed nandolo’s to three factors that include its availability to survive through all weather conditions, emerging of good varieties that boosted production and a strong Indian market that proved to be lucrative back in the years.
In a seperate interview, Nandolo Farmers Association board member Darlington Ndasauka said there is nothing farmers can do from the findings as it is what is happening on the ground.
In August last year, India, the largest market for pigeon peas, imposed quotas on the crop by moving it from free to the restricted category of imports, thereby affecting government’s desire to ramp up production of pigeon peas as part of its wider diversification strategy to supplement tobacco’s foreign exchange earnings.
The development left pigeon peas farmers stuck with last year’s crop in excess of over 600 000 tonnes as prices continued to crush to an average of K40 per kilogramme (kg), from a high of K700 two years ago. n