Shoprite will start buying sweet potatoes, maize, eggs, meat and other produce from local farmers. This will not only boost farming but also help Malawi to save its foreign exchange.
Shoprite director for African division Gerhard Fritz said this last week during a groundbreaking function of their shop building project in Mzuzu.
He said Shoprite will only import commodities that cannot be sourced locally.
â€œThe manufacturing industry in Malawi is very small for us to [entirely] depend on, but for commodities that are locally found, we will not import them,â€ said Fritz.
He said when completed, the Mzuzu Shoprite, being built at Katoto Freedom Park, will create 150 jobs in the city.
Mzuzu City Member of Parliament Professor Peter Mwanza described the development as good news to small-scale farmers in the country as they will now find a ready market for their produce.
Mwanza thanked Shoprite for accepting his proposal to build a shop in the city.
â€œAfter U-Save supermarket left, I asked Shoprite to come to Mzuzu because the city is the commercial hub of the Northern Region,â€ he said.
The idea of Shoprite buying farm produce locally should have pleased market analysts James Chikavu Nyirenda, Fredrick Changaya and Edward Chilima who have been asking economic different players, including international chain stores, to reduce importation of commodities that can easily be sourced locally.
Malawi is facing an acute foreign exchange shortage that has resulted in the country struggling to pay for its critical imports such as drugs, fuel, industrial raw materials and farm inputs such as fertiliser and seeds.
A fortnight ago, Chikavu Nyirenda urged government to temporarily ban importation of luxuries as one way of fixing the foreign exchange problem. But Chancellor College economics Professor Ben Kaluwa said the best way of dealing with such issue is to increase duty on the imports.