Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi has said its members are still being denied maize export permits despite having a ready market in Zimbabwe for their last year’s stock.
But Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said in an interview yesterday that currently, maize export is dependent on an exporter getting clearance from the Ministry of Agriculture,
In an interview yesterday, Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi president Grace Mijiga Mhango said the rejection has forced the association to stop looking for international markets, particularly in East Africa where there is potential later in the year.
Said Mhango: “If at all the Ministry of Trade is indeed issuing export permits to traders dependent on an exporter getting clearance from the Ministry of Agriculture, then they could have publicised this so that we are made aware.
“Otherwise, there are some members whose export permits have been rejected and we took it that this was because of food insecurity fears.”
Meanwhile, retail maize prices on the local market were lower than in selected regional markets in eastern Africa as at the end of April.
For example, while maize in Malawi fetched an average of K12 000 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag, the same fetched K14 000 in Maputo, Mozambique, K18 000 in Dar es Salaam Tanzania and Kenya and K23 000 in Kampala, Uganda, according to published International Food Policy Research Institute data.
Ministry of Agriculture figures show that although this year’s maize output will decline by 14 percent compared to the previous year, the country will harvest about 3.9 million metric tonnes (MT) this year, according to first round crop production estimate.
This means the country will have a surplus of 900 00MT of maize.
During the previous year, Ministry of Agriculture said it was pondering on exporting one million MT of maize surplus anticipated during the year.
Resultantly, Ministry of Trade lifted the maize export ban and started issuing 2020/21 maize export licences for the export of 500 000MT, but the permit was temporarily banned after issuing permit for 14 000MT due to food insecurity fears.
Msokera said once an exporter applies for the export permit and gets a no objection letter from Ministry of Agriculture, the exporter proceeds with normal export procedures.
He, however, was non committal on the export volumes to be considered for this year.
He said: “Regarding the total volume to be considered for export, decision is yet to be made by a high-level committee of concerned MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] that includes ministries of Agriculture and Trade and Industry, among others.
“At a right time, potential exporters will be notified.”
His counterpart in the Ministry of Agriculture, Gracian Lungu said they only give no objections for issuance of export permits in line with food balance sheet, which shows a surplus.