The Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and seven other private companies have obtained licences to export 116, 440 metric tonnes (mt) of maize.
Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the parastatal applied to export 50,000mt of the commodity and have since been given the licence.
He indicated that the ministry is processing other applications and will proceed to provide the licences until the targeted 356,742mt of excess maize from last season is cleared.
“The government, through the ministry and other agencies such as Export Development Fund and the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre, is also supporting the private sector by identifying off-takers to facilitate export of the maize.
“The export of this surplus maize is also expected to help the economy to earn significant amount of foreign exchange that will supplement what might be obtained from Malawi’s top forex earner, tobacco, this year,” Msokera said.
He said countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Sudan have expressed interest in off-taking the maize.
However, some experts have faulted the government for the initiative, saying the country is still vulnerable to food shortages.
Agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said the surplus figures this year could change as they are based on first-round estimates.
“We need to learn from history. If we want to start exporting, that should be done after we harvested the current crop and we are sure of the surplus,” Mula said.
Civil Society Agriculture Network National Director Pamela Kuwali said the country needed to be cautious on the move.
“Government should first make sure that the strategic grain reserves are well stocked, farmers must be sensitised not to sell all their stock and should be protected from buyers who may offer them very low prices as they accumulate stocks for export,” Kuwali said.