By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
Producers of root crops in the country have decried low consumption of their products on the local market.
The producers have attributed the situation to the dominance of cereals such as maize and failure by Malawians to adjust to such products.
This came out when one of the players in the business, Fannie Gondwe of Perisha Agro and Packaging Enterprise, was hosting a team of researchers from the United States (US) Cornell University who are in the country to conduct a study on production, use and marketing of root crops.
Gondwe said, on seed multiplication, the business is running smoothly but the challenge is on products such as cassava and sweet potatoes.
“In terms of the market for processed products such as high quality cassava flour, starch and kondoole, I would say there is a market. There are industrial companies in fisheries, bakeries and breweries but a bigger market are the masses that are not using these products more often,” Gondwe said.
Team leader of the researchers, Tara Hammonds, said she was impressed with progress made in the sector from production to marketing.
“We are very impressed with what is happening in production of root. products and we think the business is fantastic. So, we will be helping the SME [small and medium enterprise] to develop a business plan for production, processing and distribution of orange fresh sweet potato,” Hammonds said.
Statistics from Food and Agriculture Organisation indicate that African countries contribute roughly 23 percent to the world production of root crops.
Malawi produces 16 percent of potatoes produced on the continent.