Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism says that it wants cooperatives to be strengthened in the country by revising the Cooperative Development Policy and formulation of an implementation strategy.
Government hopes the move will help woo more players into the cooperative sector.
In an interview on Wednesday, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said that at the moment, majority of the cooperatives are from the agriculture and finance sectors.
He said the policy, which was developed in 1997, was aimed at developing the cooperative sector is to improve income levels, delivery of essential services and create employment opportunities in the country.
Available statistics indicate that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, through the Cooperative Department, has registered 656 cooperatives as at January 2011.
Out of these, 357 are agro-based, 192 are Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) while 107 are under Community Savings and Investment Promotion (Comsip).
Nkombezi said that the ministry is banking on the yet-to-be revised policy to incorporate more sectors of the economy into the cooperative society.
The potential areas that the Ministry is banking on for cooperative development include dairy, coffee, cotton, wheat, mining, honey and horticultural cooperatives.
“In other countries, they have many sectors in the cooperatives like banks and butcheries, but here in Malawi, we have not penetrated into other sectors.
“We want to incorporate more sectors into the cooperatives society because this will not only boost the economic activities, but also help grow the economy,” he said.
Nkombezi said that the idea of reviewing the 20 year-old policy and formulating an implementation strategy is to make the cooperatives more vibrant.
In an earlier interview, 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of Cooperatives Limited business development manager Charles Kayesa said there is need for Malawi to revisit its outdated cooperative development policy.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 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 resolved easily,” he said.
Kayesa cited Kenya where he said the number of people on the payroll of cooperatives is almost the same as that of the central government.
“This is because cooperatives are well empowered. 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.