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Pigeon pea farmers in Malawi

Opening pigeon pea markets in Malawi

Smallholder farmers in Malawi dominate the production of pigeon pea crops, but have limited access to market information or technology to increase crop productivity, quality, nutritional value and resilience to diseases.

A lack of access to improved varieties of pigeon peas results in crop diseases and low yields - affecting the price that farmers receive. The local pigeon pea market is highly fragmented and disorganised.

Despite the availability of ready markets in India, the competitiveness of Malawi pigeon pea exports is being jeopardised by high freight costs and low pigeon pea grain quality in comparison to countries like Tanzania and Kenya.

How we helped

We worked with our partners and farmers using inclusive markets methodologies. Small scale producers of pigeon peas were linked to other value chain actors such as big traders, processors, vendors and service providers like finance institutions, seed suppliers and extension services.

This process also brought together different stakeholders who work in the pigeon pea value chain and opened access to trading platforms providing market information, and farmer capacity building, to increase competition.

This project has helped farmers to do better in their business. We need more farmers to adopt this idea of selling their produce through groups so that they can have that bargaining power. We are happy that through this project we have managed to organise farmers and they are now able to realise more from their produce.

Christian Aid partner EAM

The impact

A notable achievement was the formation of the Nandolo Farmers’ Association of Malawi, launched by the Ministry of Trade. The association, which envisions itself as 'the only hope for pigeon peas farmers in Malawi', coordinates production and marketing of the crop and allows vital information to be shared to enable farmers to engage with competitive buyers, explore opportunities for export, and link up with financiers.  

Women actively participated in the marketing of pigeon peas and engagement with the traders and other service providers.

The increased organisation of 5,000 producers (2,890 women) and their market analysis has resulted in the development of stronger links between local pigeon peas producers and the private sector.

Farmers are now working with the company Auction Holdings Commodity Exchange to market their pigeon peas, giving them a better negotiating position as they know different buyers’ price ranges.

The farmers’ average annual income more than doubled (110%) from MWK72,904 (c. £72) to MWK153,766 (c. £150) between 2014 and 2015. 

Explore other PPA impact stories

Reports and resources

Women smallholder farmers are typically at the base of the agricultural economy.

A report on policy and structural arrangements affecting the global market opportunities for Malawi's pigeon peas and pigeon pea products.