Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi (GTPA) have been dealt a heavy blow following Zimbabwe’s move to ban maize imports, a situation that has left traders with no market for their grain.
In an interview yesterday, GTPA president Grace Mhango said while the decision has not come as a surprise, traders have been left with no alternative market.
She said: “Zimbabwe is simply creating a market for their farmers. But we are aware they still will not harvest enough to close their food gap. We expect them to open up again between November and April 2022.
“There is a good tonnage that has gone to Mozambique but informally. We are still not losing hope on Zimbabwe, it is just a matter of timing.”
Mhango pleaded with government to understand the importance of timely decisions, saying: “We know the regional lean periods for trading maize and they should give us a chance to align our marketing with the lean period.”
Zimbabwe lifted the ban on private grain sales in October 2019 and granted the nod to individuals and corporates to import to complement government’s efforts to ensure adequate national grain reserves.
However, on Tuesday, the country banned maize imports. Zimbabwe has been importing an average of 100 000 metric tonnes (MT) per month from within the region and South America.
Zimbabwe requires about 1.8 million MT of maize annually but last year the country produced 907 628MT.
According to Zimbabwe’s Second Round of Crop and Livestock Assessment Report for 2021, the estimated maize production stands at 2.7 million MT, which is 199 percent above last year’s output.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya told The Herald that the bumper harvest meant the country would now save foreign currency and channel these resources to the productive sectors.
“We are now able to save $300 million from the 100 000 metric tonnes of maize that we have been importing monthly,” he said.
Earlier this month, Ministry of Trade director of trade Clement Kumbemba said they issued export permits for more than 130 000MT export permits, adding that “soon, we will be informing the nation for people to start applying for export permits from us”.
He said in the previous year, government registered a 356 000MT surplus after factoring in almost everything, including what is required by the industry and grain reserves but excluding what Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation would sell.
According to first round crop production estimates, Malawi is expected to produce 4.4 million MT of maize, which is 42 percent above the five-year average and 29 percent above the estimated national requirement of 3.4 million MT.
In the 2019/20 season, maize production increased by 8.8 percent from 3.3 million MT in 2018/19 growing season to 3.6 million MT in the 2019/20 growing season.
In March this year, Ministry of Trade partially lifted the maize export ban to mop up last year’s maize stocks to create space for the anticipated maize surplus grain this year.