Sugar Cane Growers Association of Malawi (Sugam) a body of sugar cane farmers in the country says local sugar producers stands to benefit more if they export their products to the regional markets.
The advice is contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a two-day sugar conference which took place in Lilongwe this week.
The conference was organised as part of a continued engagement with stakeholders in the Malawi sugar industry.
According to the communiqué signed by Frightone Njolomole who is the chairperson of Sugam, regional markets offer lucrative prospects, but there is need for Malawi to advocate for the removal of trade barriers.
“Players in the industry must explore regional markets to reduce the effects of the uncertainty brought about by the removal of quotas for sugar farmers in Europe.
“To remove the disparity between the production costs of the farmers and sugar producers, farmer associations should continuously engage with sugar producers for better returns,” says Njolomole.
According to Njolomole in terms of market opportunities, it was observed that Malawi is a surplus sugar producer and has more opportunities for export.
“In light of reforms in the European Union (EU) Agricultural Policy such as removal of quota by 2017, there is a great opportunity for export within Sadc [Southern Africa Development Community] and Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa].
“However, sugar smuggling is negatively affecting the local market. But we are happy that the police and Malawi Revenue Authority [MRA] have intensified efforts to curb the malpractice,” says Njolomole.
On building out-growers’ resilience Njolomole said the industry should promote use of climate resilience vulnerability assessment and response tool to help farmers identify risks and develop physical, social and business adaptive capacity for increased yield.
During the meeting delegates observed that farmers’ livelihood has improved and there has been tremendous infrastructure development, which is benefiting communities.
“Salima Sugar Company is in operation and this has changed the sugarcane industry environment. The coming in of new players will increase the production of sugarcane products in the country,” reads part of the statement.
Salima Sugar Factory chairperson Shirieesh Betgiri in an interview said Malawi produces high quality sugar that has potential of within the Sadc region and even Europe despite the removal of quotas for farmers in Europe.
“Sugar will always be in demand and Malawi has the potential to export its products anywhere provide there is demand,” said Betgiri.
The aim of the conference was to help ordinary farmers understand the internal activities while focusing on external especially market related, climate change and industry expansions dynamics that have an influence or an effect on the sugar industry and their businesses.
The conference brought together 104 delegates from across the sugar industry, government, academia and donors from the European Union Delegation (Malawi) and Solidaridad. n