Malawi wastes $9 billion legume market
By William Kumwembe – Times Group
Malawi is still unable to make the most of existing export market opportunities for grains and legumes with market demand now estimated at over $9 billion, the AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX) has said.
AHCX blames the situation on underproduction, heavy reliance on subsistence farming and Malawi’s inability to diversify away from tobacco.
AHCX General Manager, Davis Manyenje, said demand for legumes remains wide and untapped both locally and internationally.
Manyenje was speaking during a meeting AHCX hosted for journalists in Lilongwe over the weekend.
“Subsistence mindset limits productivity, hence the continued low production for commodities that have high demand on international markets. There is need for proper production planning,” Mayenje said.
He said low understanding and use of unstructured markets for grains and legumes have also contributed to low earnings the country gets from these crops.
He cited, for instance, that the economy is losing not less than $250 million a year through informal trading of various commodities.
“This is having a huge impact to the economy as money which was meant to grow the economy is externalised,” Manyenje said.
Figures from AHCX show that the Exchange only exported 13,970 metric tonnes of grain and legumes in the two years up to April 2016.
Manyenje then said the nation needs to be aggressive in implementing the National Export Strategy (NES) by promoting crops which were already identified.
In his presentation, Head of Operations at AHCX, Wise Chauluka, faulted lack of proper structures as a major hindrance to growth of commodity exchanges.
He said Malawians need to change mindset and approach to agriculture if the country it to tap the most from the existing external market demands.
“Malawi’s current position is a reflection of how we think. Malawi has capacity to change its misfortune in no time through agriculture only if we shift the mindset,” he said.
He recommended a shift from heavy reliance on the production end alone, instead calling on stakeholders to invest in value addition, among others.