Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Joseph Mwanamvekha on Tuesday took major sugar manufacturer Illovo Sugar Malawi to task to explain sugar shortage that has hit the country.
For the past few weeks, consumers in the country have expressed concerns over the scarcity of sugar, which some traders have taken advantage of, selling the product between K900 and K1 250 for a one kilogramme packet.
Speaking in interview after visiting the company’s sugar estate in Nchalo, Mwanamvekha said scarcity of sugar is a concern not only to the ministry, but the country as it is a strategic product and a basic requirement for most Malawians.
He said: “We noted that there is limited sugar on the market. Spot checks in major chain stores across the country showed that there was no sugar, a situation which has pushed some traders to price the commodity high.
“But the company has committed that by the end of this week there will be sugar on the market. We have also seen that they are producing over 650 tonnes against a daily requirement of 411 tonnes and we are certain that we will have sugar on our markets soon.”
On his part, Illovo Malawi managing director Mark Bainbridge said the company is currently crushing sugar which means more of supply to the market for all types of sugar.
He said, going forward, the company will put in measures to ensure that it has more production available throughout the year.
Said Bainbridge: “We try to plan how much sugar is needed in a year but what happened this year is that we experienced heavy drought which created a huge sugar deficit. We produced only 244 000 tonnes of sugar but Malawi’s normal consumption is about 160 000 tonnes which means we still had enough.
“However, the tendency by some traders to forward buy sugar but also the onset of rains coming a bit early and staying longer did not do us any good. Currently, we are planning to double our production and keep some for next year”. n