Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has said cooperatives have the potential to reduce inequality, which is a catalyst for serious negative socio-economic and security consequences.
The ministry’s principal secretary Cliff Chiunda said cooperatives are a proven force for economic and social inclusion and must be given necessary support to grow.
“Indeed, inequality has serious negative socio-economic and security consequences. History has shown that cooperatives help to reduce inequality thereby reducing poverty by empowering people through dignified and sustainable ways of making a living,” he said on Saturday during the commemorations of International Day of Cooperatives in Lilongwe under the theme Cooperatives: The Power to Act for a Sustainable Future.
Chiunda said if the country is serious about reducing inequalities and poverty, huge investments must go into cooperatives because, as a resilient form of business, cooperatives enable ordinary people to easily access business and work opportunities and also raise savings.
He said cooperatives also play an important role in ensuring food security, value addition, provision of goods and services.
Malawi Federation of Cooperatives Limited business development manager Charles Kayesa said there is need for Malawi to revisit its outdated cooperative development policy.
“The cooperative development policy for Malawi needs to be revised so that it is in tandem with the current developments in the sector. This policy, which was formed in 1997, has been static and as a result some of the challenges cooperatives are facing cannot be solved easily,” he said.
Kayesa cited Kenya where he said the number of people on payroll of cooperatives is almost the same as that of the central government.
“This is so because cooperatives are well organised. If cooperatives can be empowered, they have the potential to help government save foreign exchange because they also produce quality goods which can compete on the international market,” he said.
An official from Mbwazi Producers and Cooperatives in Nsanje, Tobias Thonje, said they produce quality rice, but lack of markets and expertise affect the quality of their products.