Malawiâ€™s Ministry of Industry and Trade has said government is monitoring the market for imported fruits and vegetables before implementing measures to encourage international retailers to start buying local produce.
The ministryâ€™s spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi was commenting on influx of imported fruits and vegetables in some retail shops despite critical foreign exchange challenges Malawi is facing.
â€œEfforts are being made by government to engage international retailers such as Shoprite and others to increase buying locally produced fruits and vegetables under the â€˜Buy Malawi Campaignâ€™ and other business linkage programmes,â€ he said.
Nkombezi said under the programme, government is looking at several factors that need to be addressed such as quality, quantity and standards.
â€œFor instance, does Malawi produce enough and quality apples to satisfy our customers,â€ he queried.
Spot checks conducted in Blantyre revealed that Chichiri Shoprite had some stocks of imported fruits and vegetables such as lemons, potatoes, cabbages lettuce and oranges, among others.
Shoprite fresh mart manager, who only identified himself as Richard, declined to comment on the matter.
Earlier this year, opposition legislators in Parliament proposed that Malawi regulates its importation of fruits and vegetables, especially those that can be produced locally to reduce the countryâ€™s import bill and save the much-needed foreign exchange.
Malawi is experiencing an acute shortage of forex due to, among other factors, this yearâ€™s dismal performance of tobacco which brings in 60 percent of the countryâ€™s foreign currency earnings.
This year, tobacco has raked in only $177 million (K55 billion), a 40 percent drop from last yearâ€™s $293 million (K89 billion) largely due to low output of crop following poor prices in 2011.
This figure is also lower than the average proceeds of just over $300 million (K93 billion) that Malawi traditionally rakes in.