By Chisomo Ferex Chinayani Phiri
The Competition and Fair Trading Commission ( CFTC) is leaving no stone behind in ensuring that all Agricultural Extension Officers are aware and have full knowledge on contract farming.
The commission has been crisscrossing the country since August 30, 2021, sensitizing Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Extension Officers on contract farming. It has also been meeting farmers to appreciate the kind of contracts that they enter into.
During the exercise which ended on September 10, 2021, CFTC has conducted seminars with Extension Officers in Dowa, Ntchisi, Nkhotakota, Rumphi, Chitipa and Karonga. The commission has also held meetings with Officers in Balaka, Mulanje, Thyolo, Nthewu, Blantyre and Mwanza where it has sensitized over 250 Officers.
Speaking during one of the seminars in Ntchisi, Competition and Fair Trading Commission ( CFTC) Acting Director Apoche Itimu said the meetings were important because they accorded to raise awareness on contract farming.
” We know that many farmers are not aware of how to get into contracts that favour them and end up being shortchanged. These seminars are aimed at equipping extension officers with knowledge on contract farming so that they can help farmers get into better contracts”, said Itimu.
Apart from the seminars with the extension officers, CFTC has also been conducting interviews with farmers on existing contract agreements with their buyers in order to determine whether their contracts carry any restrictive clauses.
During one of the interviews, the commission received allegations that some farmers had been duped off farm produce, a conduct which is believed to be a breach of the agreement that was signed.
The Competition and Fair Trading Commission of Malawi is implementing a project on enhancement of competition and consumer protection in the agriculture Sector in Malawi under Agriculture Commercialization ( AGCOM) project.
Earlier in July, the commission conducted another round of seminar in Salima, Mangochi, Dedza, Zomba, Machinga, Balaka, Mzimba, Kasungu, and Mchinji meeting over 200 Officers.