By Watipaso Mzungu
Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) has commended the government for drafting a Crops Bill that aims at dealing with unscrupulous vendors who are ripping off farmers in Malawi.
CEPA Programmes Manager Alfred Kambwiri observed that in the current scenario where there is no clear legal framework that enforces the implementation of government set farm-gate prices, farmers are at the mercy of traders.
Kambwiri was speaking in Mchinji on Thursday during the stakeholders’ meeting his organization held with financial support from Norwegian Embassy through Norwegian Church Aid, Development Fund of Norway and Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
The meeting sought to find solutions that would contribute to sustainable agricultural transformation that will result in improved income, food and nutrition security among smallholder farmers in Malawi.
Kambwiri said their survey had established that farmers continue to be vulnerable to vendors because there is no law that penalizes people who buy produce at below the minimum farm gate prices.
“From the discussions we have had with farmers in our impact districts, we have found that there is no very clear legal framework that enforces the implementation of the minimum farm gate prices by the government. But it is pleasing to note that the government has drafted the Crops Bill, which has a legal provision that supports the implementation of farm-gate prices,” said Kambwiri.
Among others, the proposed Crops Bill seeks to repeal the Special Crops Act and the Agriculture (General Purposes) Act in order to incorporate changes that will lead to the provision of a comprehensive regulatory framework in the crop sub-sector aimed at accelerating the growth and development of crops in Malawi.
This Bill seeks to provide for a regulatory framework in the crop sub-sector that will circumvent unnecessary regulatory bureaucracy and reduce duplication and overlap of functions among institutions involved in the regulation of crops.
Meanwhile, Kambwiri has disclosed that CEPA is strengthening local food systems to achieve sustainable improvement of food and nutrition security, income, and resilience to climate change among 150, 000 agriculture dependent rural households within selected Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) in five districts of Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu, Dowa and Mchinji by 2025.