Government says it is committed to seeing to it that the country moves forward in adding value to its agricultural products by supporting industries so that the country produces more products for exports.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Cliff Chiunda said this on Monday after touring Dwangwa Estate owned by Illovo Sugar (Malawi), Ethanol Company Limited (Ethco) and Carbon Dioxide and Allied Products Company in Nkhotakota.
The tour was led by Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Joseph Mwanamveka.
Chiunda said industrialisation has become a global issue and Malawi is no exception as it is also moving in the same direction driven by its unique agro-based industrialisation.
“Sugar has over the years proved to be the country’s key forex earner. At the moment, we are finalising the Sugar Bill which will help regulate the sugar industry. Furthermore, we have been working with the companies to see to it that challenges that they are going through are addressed,” he said.
He hoped by ironing out challenges companies are facing, government can help speed up industrialisation.
“Today, we have witnessed the value chain, right from sugar production to processing of cane to sugar, use of molasses to produce ethanol and the byproduct used to produce carbon dioxide which is impressive,” Chiunda said.
In his remarks, Illovo
Sugar (Malawi) Limited Dwangwa Estate general manager Lal Bachan called for proper regulation in the sugar sector to ensure there is a level playing field.
He said: “While we welcome competition [in the sector] following the entry of other sugar manufacturing companies, there are some challenges that have come along with it [competition].
“Notably, the decision by some farmers to sell the sugarcane to new entrants instead of meeting the obligations they have with their associations that supply to Illovo.”
In a separate interview during the tour, Ethco chief executive officer Lusubilo Chakaniza said the company, a subsidiary of conglomerate Press Corporation Limited (PCL), is keen to develop a sustainable collaboration with government so as to continue to contribute to the national economy through its existing business.
“Such dialogue and any discussions related to our challenges and those of the entire private sector are essential so that we can together build a stronger economy. We believe that the ministry will be key to providing us with necessary support and direction for us to thrive,” she said.
Last year, government spearheaded the establishment of Private-Public Dialogue comprising of industry experts to hasten the process of industrialisation by bringing together government and private sector.
During a meeting in Lilongwe, earlier this year, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe challenged the experts that they should not waste time with rhetoric, but come up with practical policies that can transform local industries.
The finance minister said he feels ashamed every time he goes to his village to see people living in grass-thatched houses and drinking water from the same water sources with animals.