Farm produce smuggling frustrating SMEs growth
Minister of Trade and Industry Mark Katsonga Phiri has said the tendency of smuggling farm produce outside the country which is rampant in boarding districts of Karonga and Chitipa is frustrating the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in the Northern Region.
Katsonga-Phiri said rice, sunflower and groundnuts are the common produce smuggled to Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya, thereby affecting supply of raw materials to local agro-processing companies.
Katsonga Phiri was speaking Tuesday during the commissioning of an agro-processing unit, a machine that is processing and producing cooking oil belonging to Homes Industries Limited in Karonga.
He said apart from being affected by the low supply of raw materials, SMEs face challenges to excel in the market because most Malawians look down upon local products.
“Smuggling farm produce outside the country has a negative impact on local production of goods which the country needs to be exporting.
“We are also saying buy locally processed products so that we promote our fellow Malawians. By doing so, jobs will be created, forex will never be a challenge because we are exporting our products,” Katsonga said.
Homes Industry Limited Managing Director Victoria Mwafulirwa said the processing machine will increase the production of cooking from 1000 litres per day to 4000 litres.
Mwafulirwa said farmers, women and youth, in particular, will directly benefit from the investment as the company buys sunflower and groundnuts in large quantities for the process of cooking oil from them.
“We are saying if our borders will be tightened so that the produce is not smuggled, we believe we will be producing a large quantity of cooking oil and meet the demand in the Northern Region,” Mwafulirwa said.
The processing unit has been procured with support from Comesa Federation of National Associations of Women in Business (COMFWB).
COMFWB Executive Director Ruth Negash said they decided to support Homes Industries because among other reasons, their organisation promotes goods that are locally made in Africa and economic empowerment of women.
Homes Industries works with over 2,500 farmers from Chitipa and Karonga districts.