Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has appealed for protection from export bans on non-traditional agricultural products which include pigeon peas, wheat, soya and paprika, come 2013.
FUM president Felix Jumbe said this in an e-mailed response to Weekend Nation on Wednesday on the progress of the Export Pre-finance and Guarantee Scheme that was introduced in the 2011/12 fiscal budget.
“The investors (farmers) are only looking for protection from export bans that are done without consultations and need to be assured that such a thing will not happen,” said Jumbe.
As a way of promoting the export sector, government in the 2011/12 budget promised to establish the Export Pre-finance and Guarantee Scheme to provide working capital and medium to long-term loans to exporters.
The scheme would focus on small-scale, non-traditional exporters who venture into processing and export of non-traditional commodities such as gemstones or non-traditional agricultural products, including pigeon peas, wheat, soya and paprika.
According to Jumbe, this came about at the time Malawi realised that the traditional export crops that used to bring foreign currency were no longer able to do the same.
“For instance, tobacco that used to fetch $400 million (K109 billion) is now bringing in only $180 million (K49 billion) and the gap created can only be filled by the other crops such as soya, groundnuts, beans, pigeon peas and rice as also targetted by the presidential initiative,” he said.
The deliberate programme is to encourage farmers to grow these crops and be financed through guarantees to their banks as long as the farmers have an export order or have identified off takers to provide an order to buy from farmers.
“This is work in progress, FUM is busy facilitating the identification of farmers or farmer cooperatives that can grow for exports in 2013 and the intention is at least to export enough of the crops mentioned to fill the gap being created by tobacco.
“FUM is busy doing the engagements and soon shall communicate the hectarage on each of the crops mentioned and who is growing what. As a union, we are confident with the process and we reckon we are to register success by 2013 in exports of Soya, beans, rice, and even maize,” he said.
In the 2012/13 fiscal budget, under the Special Crops Initiative, a total of K1.5 billion has been provided for the promotion of special crops such as soya beans, pigeon peas, sugar beans, groundnuts and rice. The objective is to up-scale production of these crops mainly for export.