At a time Malawi is keen on diversifying its exports, some of the main export commodities posted reduced revenue in 2015.
A report from the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development dated June 2016 show that coffee and cotton have dropped as the country’s top foreign exchange earners to number 10 and 11 respectively.
The report shows that in 2015, Malawi earned K516 million and K743 million from cotton and coffee respectively, a drop from the previous year’s K9.2 billion and K1.9 billion respectively.
Civil Society Agricultural Network (CisaNet) national coordinator Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said in an interview on Monday that although Malawi performed poorly in the year under review, the future of the two commodities still looks promising.
He said there is a lot that needs to be done to promote the two crops to reach their full potential output.
Said Nkhono-Mvula: “For cotton, I believe that the reduction could be attributed in part to climatic challenges that the country faced in the past two years which affected both the quality and quantity of the crop.
“However, Malawi is not generally a coffee country as compared to eastern African countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda despite that the brand of Mzuzu Coffee is gaining international recognition.”
Cotton Association of Malawi (Cofam) president George Nnesa said in an interview the cotton sector has been facing a number of challenges from lack of financing to diseases, which has had a negative outturn on production coupled with poor climate.
Agriculture experts argue that the two crops have high potential and could bring in substantial foreign exchange if properly promoted.
Meanwhile, Malawi’s trade with the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) widened in 2015, according to Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development data.
In the year under review, Malawi registered a trade deficit of K191.29 billion and K1.77 billion for Sadc and Comesa respectively.
According to the 2016 Malawi Annual Economic Report 2016, the country’s exports to Sadc decreased from K171 billion in 2014 to K169.33 billion while imports decreased from K471.12 billion in 2014 to K360.63 billion. n