The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has decried government’s control in agriculture trade, arguing that it impacts negatively on the market.
The chamber has since asked authorities to issue such bans only when there are compelling reasons.
MCCCI president Matthews Chikankheni and chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira, in a joint statement, observed that export restrictions deny farmers better prices and act as a disincentive for them to grow more next season.
“Sometimes they shift to producing other crops and, at other times, they reduce output of the food crop. When farmers produce less, consumers pay higher prices since the food commodity’s production is kept below potential. Thus, food trade restrictions actually aggravate the price spiral [inflation] and instability,” reads the statement in part.
MCCCI has noted lack of transparency in decisions governing food commodity trade policy.
When export bans are adhoc, the private sector body argues that food products that were grown to satisfy export orders can translate into substantial income losses by farmers as they are left rotting.
“The persistence of such uncertainty about the implementation of export bans can erase Malawi’s ability to engage in export trade, yet the overarching objective of Malawi is to become a producing and exporting country,” it says.
MCCCI has, therefore, called on authorities to desist from issuing bans when there are no emergency and compelling reasons. The chamber also condemned the setting of minimum and maximum prices in agriculture trade.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade, in October 2012, warned against maize exports to neighbouring countries, arguing that the export ban on maize and maize products issued earlier in the year was not lifted.
“The export of maize and maize products requires an export licence issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade before effecting exportation. This is in accordance with the Control of Goods Act Chapter 18:08 of the laws of Malawi.
“In view of the above, the ministry wishes to emphasise that the export ban on maize and maize products has not been lifted. As such, no person is allowed to export maize and maize products,” read the statement.