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Sugarcane growers petition Parliament

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Smallholder sugarcane farmers from Dwangwa in Nkhotakota have called upon the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism to revoke the import permit on sugarcane saying the move will leave many cane farmers helpless as they will be forced out of business.
This comes amid the ministry’s decision to start granting a licence to import of 20,000 metric tonnes of sugar into Malawi.
Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (Sugam) Chairperson Frighton Njolomole petitioned Parliament yesterday saying government should support the smallholder sector.
According to the association, if the 20,000 tonnes of sugar is allowed into the country, there will be a reduction of their income by approximately K1.6 billion.
Njolomole said the association, which has a membership of 5,000 growers, supplied cane worth K11.1 billion in the year ended March 31 2017 from Dwangwa and Nchalo out-growers.
He said through withholding taxes, the association contributed K332 million and K1.8 billion in Value Added Tax (VAT); as such, the decision by the Ministry of Trade will not only affect their finances but also reduce the contribution the growers make to government.
According to Njolomole, by importing sugar, the government is contradicting itself on the ‘buy Malawi goods’ campaign.
“This will impact on our ability to support and provide for our families, reduce employment as it will cut back on the number of people we need in the value chain. Government should enhance a ‘buy Malawi’ campaign by stopping issuing this licence of importation of sugar,” he said.
Ministry of Trade spokesperson Wiskes Mkombezi said he believes the group does not have adequate information on the matter.
Meanwhile, the association delivered a petition to Parliament calling on the Members of Parliament to intervene in the decision.
The petition was delivered to the Agriculture Committee of Parliament and was received by the committee’s Chairperson Joseph Chidanti-Malunga.

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