MALAWI-Malawi farmers forecast maximizing earnings from pigeon peas exports to India this season following the lifting of the 50,000 metric tonnes (mt) quota that had limited their access to the lucrative market.

The move follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Malawi and India governments in 2021, shortly after the introduction of a trade policy on the import of Toor dal in August 2017.

In 2017, India imposed an import cap of 200 000MT on pigeon peas imports followed by a further export window of 250 000MT through private trade from the FY2021/22 to the 2025-26 season.

However, according to a letter from the Indian High Commissioner’s office addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the quota has been waived until March 31, 2024.

Despite Malawi being one of the major pigeon pea-producing countries in Africa, the actors in the sector are yet to realize the full profitability of the crop which accounts for about 53% of the total pulse production in the country.

Previously, Susan Chimbayo, the chairperson of the Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi had lamented the lack of market for pigeon peas farmers.

In 2022, Malawi exported 69,151 tonnes in 2022 with a significant portion of the exports going to UAE, its number one export market.

India only imported 20,000mt last year, arguably due to the import restriction imposed by the government in New Delhi.

With the lifting of the quota, Shimbayo is optimistic that farmers can surpass Indian market demand, adding that a majority of farmers already adopted new high-yielding varieties.

Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson Mayeso Msokera welcomed the development and urged farmers and grower associations to take advantage of the unlimited market.

 “We call upon producers to also utilize the available agricultural production and export financing facilities at institutions such as Export Development Fund, Agriculture Commercialisation Project, and other local financial institutions to facilitate their export financing needs,” said Msokera.

Sangwani Makoko, the Legumes Development Trust project manager said that lack of information among farmers could be a setback. 

She added that It is one thing to have an unlimited quota and another to have it realized hence farmers ought to produce more to fully exploit the opportunity.

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