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Cooking oil smuggling chokes sunflower business

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Over 2,000 sunflower farmers producing cooking oil in Phalombe District have decried illegal importation of the commodity from Mozambique.

The farmers, who mobilised their resources under the banner of theNational Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nas f am) , a r e producing Zikometso cooking oil.

Innovation and Productivity Centre (IPC) Manager for Mulanje, Phalombe and Thyolo, Benson Kuziona, said the farmers are finalising certification modalities with the Malawi Bureau of Standard (MBS).

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“At first the farmers used to sell the sunflower seed to Asian businessmen in Limbe. But when we looked at the volumes that we were selling to them, we came up with the idea to do some value addition through the processing of cooking oil from our sunflower here.

“The only problem we are facing is that of cooking oil that is coming from Mozambique which many of the people are used to here. But our cooking oil is far much better because we also do refining at our factory,” Kuziona said.

The initiative is said to be benefitting the farmers in their economic transformation as they sell sunflower seed at a higher price than in the past when they sold it to traders in Limbe.

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One of the farmers, Fredrick Phauphau, said he is realising enough money to sustain his family economically and increase production of sunflower in his field.

“I am now able to produce more than 1,200 kilogrammes of sunflower seed a year. How much I make depends on the prices that we are offered. However, I have been able to send my children to school and build houses, among other things,” Phauphau said.

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