As agriculture selling period continues to be in off-season, it would do a great justice to reflect on the progress recorded and of course ambiguities encountered this far.
It is thus not a secret that Agriculture is and has been the country’s economic engine. Malawians are aware that it was this same agriculture that helped the Kwacha to share nicely the buying power with the US Dollar in 1982 during Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s reign.
It would require no expert to come in and tell Malawians that Agriculture has the power to give a lease of life to the country’s crumbling economy with evidence from the milestone registered in those old days.
20 plus years after Dr. Banda’s reign, the story is comparatively different. The country’s economy is battled if not on a sick bed and agriculture is just marred with a lot of shortcomings and all lots of unfulfilled promises.
The gradual erosion of glory in the agricultural sector continues to wash away Malawi’s brighter image. The 2016/2017 agricultural selling season is one example of how less government and individuals care about reviving agriculture.
This year farmers have been robbed. Imagine maize was being sold to venders at less than K100 per kilogram. Mathematically, a maize producer was to sell over 150 Kilograms of maize to make it MK15, 00.00 if he had to buy a brand-new shirt, I am afraid how much it would take him or her to have school fees for a single term for a secondary school learner – I guess it would take several hectares of land.
As if maize was not enough to make a farmer cry foul, rice was another product. A 50 kilogram bag of Amanda rice was sold at k15, 000.00 or less at Govala in the outskirts of Zomba City.
For the sake of progress, it would be better not to talk of cotton which is almost forgotten as for the past years cotton has failed the country miserably, large stocks of it has been returning from the market only to be channeled into beddings for chicks by those trying layers production.
Cutting the chase, 2016/2017 selling season has proved that even the best buyer – ADMARC can chose to start buying Maize when farmers have already exchanged their products with basins made of recycled plastics.
To echo what has been said, business experts have argued that the low export cover in the agricultural year under review has also added a pinch to a decline in trade value.
The expert from National Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) William Mwale said, apart from tobacco which is being praised for beating last year’s sales index by 23 percent, other farm proceeds have failed massively.
Mwale said factors such as low export cover have led to a huge decline in the agricultural economic sector.
“It has been difficult for traders to realize better profits, farmers have failed miserably, transporters the same even curio traders are not happy because they have hit a big snug again,” he said.
Mwale has however asked government and police makers to consider maintaining prices of fuel, improve on export cover and stabilising the country’s economy if agriculture is to remain the economic back bone of the country.
“I would suggest that if government wants to go on with Agriculture as the main foreign exchange earner it should sustain the prices of fuel for a little while, it is also important to stabilize the country’s economy, overall and above government should consider exporting more so as to expand the country’s forex reserve,” he concluded.
The 2016/2017 agricultural selling season is here to go. The other year is yet to come with its stories but as we stand Malawians are closely watching if the 2017/2018 Fertilizer Input Subsidy Program – FISP will not make another dummy.