Export bans concern at investment summit
One of the delegates at the 2023 Malawi Investment Summit on Tuesday questioned the efficacy of export bans in transforming Malawi into a producing and exporting nation.
The delegate, Joshua Nthakomwa, queried as to whether the export bans are in tandem with the megafarm initiative that the Malawi Government is propagating.
This week, the Ministry of Trade revoked all existing export licences for agricultural commodities and urged exporters of the merchandise to reapply for the permits.
Secretary for Trade and Industry Christina Zakeyo directed in a statement that export of soya beans, maize, groundnuts, pigeon peas, sunflower, sesame seeds, beans, sorghum, millet, cow peas and rice shall only be allowed to be exported from Customs Controlled Export Warehouses.
But raising a question during the opening session of the investment summit which was presided over by President Lazarus Chakwera, Nthakomwa noted that while megafarms are an exciting concept, investors may not be willing to invest where there are policies that work against the market arrangements.
“For example, we have export bans also called export restrictions. So let’s say you invest in 1000 hectares of soya beans but you don’t want to be stuck with it on the local market.
“You want to export it and the market arrangements are long term. So export bans or export restrictions do a lot to disrupt the marketing arrangements,” Nthakomwa said.
Responding to the concern, Agriculture Minister Sam Kawale said the export restriction is temporary.
According to Kawale, Malawi produces a lot of high value crops but that unfortunately most of the crops that are going out there are smuggled.
“We are trying to address the issue of smuggling not because we want to punish those who already have market arrangements across the country.
“If you were to understand, some of the people whose trucks were impounded a few days ago, most of them had no papers. They were supposed to have three documents but most of them had no paperwork,” Kawale said.
On Tuesday, Grain Traders and Producers Association Chairperson Grace Mijiga described the new measures by the government as good but doubted the government’s preparedness and effectiveness.
“For starters, a lot of exporters are not aware of the system. The other issue is that we are hoping this system will not cause unnecessary delays. But it’s a very welcome initiative,” Mijiga said.