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Saulos Chilima dares agriculture players on continental trade

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Vice President Saulos Chilima yesterday challenged players in the agriculture sector to join forces and ensure that the country utilises and benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Speaking at an Agriculture Policy Conference organised by Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) in Lilongwe, Chilima said AfCFTA has the potential to deepen and expand the country’s trade portfolio and improve the welfare of people.

“All players must brainstorm key, innovative strategies for Malawi to effectively implement the free trade area. Let us all start harnessing all the opportunities that are before us.

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One who sells the most stands to gain the most,” he said.

He said there was a need to make tangible strides with the targets set through the country’s National Exportation Strategy.

“To fully benefit, Malawi needs to create value for its commodities. Approximately 90 percent of our exports are in raw form, embodying limited value addition,” he said.

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Deputy Minister of Agriculture Madalitso Wirima said the country was exploring ways of exporting meat and horticulture products, apart from legumes and tobacco.

In her presentation on the potential impact of AfCFTA, Cisanet Vice Board Chair Betty Chinyamunyamu said the agriculture sector must take decisive action and push the local industry to work more than before.

She said the commercialisation agenda must be supported.

“We have continued to depend on tobacco even when the values are going down. But there hasn’t been another commodity that is coming up to replace tobacco. When we are looking at our National Exportation Strategy we need to prioritise one or two commodities where we already have a competitive advantage,” Chinyamunyamu said.

Cisanet Access to Market Thematic Group Chair Driana Lwanda said inadequate access to certified seeds, financial products, poor and inadequate infrastructure threatened the country’s potential to benefit from the free trade market.

She said such challenges must be addressed for the country to fully benefit from the African single market.

In January last year, Malawi joined 55 African countries in January last year to participate and benefit from the free trade area.

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