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Export earnings seen shrinking

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Felix Lombe

Earnings from six out of the country’s top 10 export commodities declined between January and October 2022 compared to the same period last year, figures from the National Statistical Office (NSO) show.

For example, earnings from tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes declined to $293.4 million from $334.7 million.

Value for oil seeds and related products declined to $139.2 million from $147.9 million while edible vegetables and related products earned $46.2 million from $56.4 million in the first 10 months of 2021.

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Sugar and sugar confectioneries raked in $23.2 million during the period under review from $62.5 million in 2021.

Marginal drops were seen in residues and waste from the food industry at $24.8 million from $25.9 million and nuclear reactors and related products at $13.6 million from $15.5 million.

Earnings from coffee, tea, and related products, however, went up to $71 million from $64.9 million, respectively.

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Wood and associated products earned $11 million from $8.9 million, and cereals raked in $10.5 million from $9.5 million.

Earnings from edible fruits and nuts, including the peel of citrus fruit or melons, were stable at $27 million.

Commenting on the figures, economic expert Felix Lombe, who is also National Programme Coordinator for Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship project, said reduced demand for the commodities coupled with stiff competition at the global market may have triggered the performance.

“Going forward, we need to sustain the momentum for diversification. Horizontal and vertical diversification is effectively done by medium scale farmers because their risk appetite is high,” Lombe said.

International trade economist Murry Siyasiya rated the exports performance as shocking, saying it could have been triggered by foreign exchange shortages.

“We need to export quality products, be it sugar, tobacco, vegetables and so on. If we export quality products, the buyers will not substitute our products with others from elsewhere. We also need to widen our export base and add on the list of products we sell outside Malawi,” Siyasiya said.

Overall, the country’s exports reached $750.3 million, representing an eight percent drop, compared to $818.7 million realised in the same period last year.

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