Four international firms want huge quantities of oil seed from Malawi this year and have since made inquiries through the Malawi Investment Trade Centre (Mitc), it has been established.
But such inquiries could be a lost export opportunity as currently, few exporters of oil seed have the capacity to meet the demand and only export as per market requirements.
Chinese firm Wenzhou Majestar International Limited, according to Mitc, wants 5 000 metric tonnes (MT) of groundnuts per annum while South African firm African Sunoil wants 1 000 MT of cotton seedcake.
Two Zambian firms, Afgri Grain and Management and Aurora Group, each want 3 000 MT of sunflower and 3 000 MT of soya beans, respectively, according to Mitc.
In his presentation on export opportunities in the oil seed sector in Lilongwe on Thursday during the oil seed sector clinic, Mitc investment and trade promotion
manager Morton Gunsalu said Malawi has huge opportunities to export oil seed.
He said it is worrying that few exporters are able to exploit various market opportunities across the border, but assured that Mitc is building capacity and readiness of exporters.
“We publicise these market opportunities so that whosoever has the capacity should grab them,” said Gunsalu.
On his part, Mitc chief executive officer Clement Kumbemba said there is huge demand for soya beans, sunflower, peanut butter and margarine in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
But he said currently, production per unit area of oil seed is low, urging farmers to embrace modernisation of their production methods.
Kumbemba said unlike five years ago, oil seed is playing a key role in the domestic economy as identified in the National Export Strategy (NES).
He said the business clinic is an important platform for enhancing the knowledge of all value-chain players in the oil seed sub-sector on the best business practices starting from good farming practices, post-harvest handling, packaging, applicable taxes on oil seed products and market opportunities to ensure progressive development of the oil seed sub-sector.
During the meeting, Mitc engaged experts from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Malawi Bureau of Standards, Nampak Malawi and Malawi Revenue Authority to facilitate topical areas of discussion.
Malawi has for many years grappled to reverse its wide trade gap, as imports value outpace exports, despite several interventions, including the implementation of the much-touted NES.
The business clinic was organised by Mitc with funding from an Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) supported project called the Support to Agro-Processing Special Economic Zone Road Map and Promotion of Value-Added Exports Project.
The project has been running for four years to promote value added products into the regional market.