Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (Sugam) has appealed to government to fast-track the review of the Sugarcane Industry Bill in a bid to protect growers.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) in Blantyre on Sunday, Sugam chairperson Frighton Njolomole said the sugar cane industry has been operating without a regulatory framework which was posing a threat to farmers.
He said in the absence of the Bill, the sustainable growth of smallholder sugar cane production is being compromised each year.
Said Njolomole: “For example, farmers in Salima and Nkhotakota start growing sugar cane even when they have not secured a steady market for their product.
“This results in over production of sugar cane. In view of that, we have observed that every year, smallholder farmers carry over their cane to the following year.”
Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the ministry was working with Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to ensure that vetting of the Bill was expedited and finalised.
He said: “As government, we are still working on the Bill and after finalising all the needed procedures; the Bill will be sent to Cabinet committee for consideration and, thereafter, to Parliament for enactment.
“Government believes that the Bill will address some of the issues happening around the sugar cane industry by regulating the industry including the management of disputes between millers and growers arising from cane supply agreement.
“There will [also]be an improvement on transparency and accountability operations of the value chain players and strengthening the position of the perceived weaker industry stakeholders.”
The Sugarcane Industry Bill was drafted in 2015 and it is yet to be presented to Parliament for consideration