Poor coordination between public and private sector players is said to have partly stifled efforts towards maximising Malawi’s export capacity.
This is coming at a time Malawi implementing the National Export Strategy II (Nes II) after Nes I failed to meet its aspirations.
It also comes as the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) has uncovered export leads worth $362 million for various Malawian products such as sugar, coffee, beans, groundnuts and rice during a recent mission in Malaysia.
It has also transpired that the team, which attended the Africa Expo 2022 in Malaysia, secured investment interests of over $160 million in manufacturing, real estate and energy.
In an interview, MITC Chief Executive Officer Paul Kwengwere said apart from this, they got over 90,000 metric tonnes(mt) demand from different countries on soya, another 100,000 mt on groundnuts.
“The problem is that we are not producing enough. The market is readily available outside. It would just be so easy for somebody who has produced lots of soya, to actually tap into the export market,” Kwengwere said.
Malawi Union of Small and Medium Enterprises President Barbara Banda faulted the centre for what she called failure to mobilise producers and support a structured programme.
“We need to get to a point where we see these are the key products that have good demand, produce them and then we start identifying where we produce from.
“…the farmers are there, the land is there, the water is there in this country, the intention to produce is there, but we need a plan. We need to really have a properly guided plan,” Banda said.
President of the Grain Producers and Traders Association Grace Mijiga Mhango said local producers continued facing challenges in meeting required quality.
“We need special negotiation skills or structured transactions. In short, we need to align production to markets,” Mhango said.
Upon expiry of the Nes I in 2018, exports, as a share of imports, stood at 32.6 percent, which was below the 2010 baseline.
However, the Nes II has identified agriculture, manufacturing, value added services and mining as the priority areas with good growth prospects to unlock Malawi’s full export potential.