The country’s agro-dealers are having a tough time competing on the international market because of charging exorbitant prices for their products, Acting Chief Executive Officer for Active Institute of Corporate citizenship-AICC Felix Lombe has said.
Speaking in an interview, Lombe said though his institution had helped farmers penetrate into the international market, they were not achieving much as their products tend to be more expensive, forcing buyers to prefer those from neighbouring countries.
“We have enough international markets but we still need to do more on increasing productivity. Our farmers spend more on production but they yield small quantities on a portion of land which could have produced more. And for them to break even, they have no option but to raise the selling prices,” said Lombe.
He spoke about the need for farmers to use modern technologies that will enable them produce more from a small piece of land and sell at prices that do not scare away buyers.
The AICC boss said it was against this background that the institute was promoting the establishment of farmer cooperatives to expose farmers to emerging production technologies, marketing mechanisms and agri-business financing instruments that would enable them produce more.
Concurring with Lombe, National Director for Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said challenges such as high cost of inputs which has contributed to high production cost of agro-products coupled with transportation and transaction cost involved in exporting goods from Malawi has had a negative bearing on the agro-dealers.
He also cited constant volumes of exports and failure to meet internationally set standards as other challenges.
“The Malawi Bureau of Standard (MBS) is not recognized in some countries and such some countries refuse to accept any product certified by MBS. This is a big setback in as far as exporting locally processed agricultural products is concerned,” he said.
He said Malawian agro-dealers needed to contemplate on participating in International trade fairs to showcase the country’s products.
“We have Chambo fish and Kilombero Rice which are adored almost everywhere in the world but how much are we promoting this rice and fish as our brand? Are our embassies doing enough to promote Malawi and Malawian products? I really don’t think so,” Nkhono-Mvula said.
Chief Executive Officer for the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Chancellor Kaferapanjira said agro-dealers needed to work together and establish means of satisfying demands on the market.
Kaferapanjira said: “Agriculture remains a very critical component in the development of the country, as MCCCI we are doing our best to promote the trade by promoting dialogue among stakeholders and establish business relationships that will enable growth of businesses and transform the country’s economy.”
Apart from organising Malawi International Trade Fair and other specialised fairs such as the National Agriculture Fair, MCCCI also organises trade/business missions with the international community. These missions are either within the SADC and COMESA regions or beyond.