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Malawi: Radio programs help farmers find more lucrative markets

Philip Chayamba has grown and sold soya and groundnuts for many years. But he earned very little because was forced to sell to middlemen. He had no other option.

Mr. Chayamba lives in the village of Cheyadi, about 100 kilometres west of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe. He says: “In the past three years, I made losses from soya and groundnuts because of poor prices from vendors.… I could not support family needs from one farming season to the next.”

Until this year, Mr. Chayamba had no alternative but to continue selling his soya and groundnuts to middlemen. Then he started listening to a program on Mudzi Wathu Community Radio.

Photo: Philip Chayamba  and his wife listen to radio. Credit: Mark Ndipita [1]

Photo: Philip Chayamba and his wife listen to radio. Credit: Mark Ndipita

The program is called Tipindule ndi mtedza ndi soya, or “Make profits with groundnuts and soya.” It introduced him to markets which offer much higher prices than he used to receive.

Mr. Chayamba says, “This year, I have managed to get US$400 from groundnuts and US$1,200 from soya, which is almost double what I could get before.”

Luciano Milala is the presenter of the program. Mr. Milala says: “Before June this year, the program was focusing more on good agricultural practices … [But] After the harvest [started], the program focused on marketing … [after we noticed that] farmers were selling their commodities to vendors at very low prices.”

The program now provides farmers with information on marketing—with an emphasis on product, place, price, and profit.

Jacob Mshanga farms in the nearby village of Chimutu. He has also benefitted from listening to the program. He says many farmers in his area were not aware that other markets and buyers offer better prices than local middlemen.

Mr. Mshanga explains: “Agricultural radio programs … were not focusing much on how farmers market their crops. [But] because the radio has now linked us to new markets, even vendors have raised … prices …”

Mr. Milala learned how broadcasters can help farmers with market information from a radio campaign run by Farm Radio Trust in June 2015. He says, “I am happy that … soya and groundnut farmers have found better markets.”

Now that Mr. Chayamba is getting better prices, he plans to expand his soya and groundnut acreage.

He says: “This year I will not struggle to pay school fees and buy groceries for my family. I advise other farmers to listen to farming programs where they can learn more about marketing agricultural produce.”