The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (Apra) says the groundnut value chain in Malawi could be an alternative to tobacco which faces a myriad of threats, including the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
In a paper titled The political Economy of the Groundnut Value Chain in Malawi: Its Re-emergence Amid Policy Chaos, Strategic Neglect and Opportunism written by Blessings Chinsinga and Mirriam Matita, Apra said the cartel is run by domestic and foreign traders.
Chinsinga is an associate professor in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi while Matita lectures research methods in the Extension Department at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The paper noted that public investment for the crop is limited as the existing seed system is largely supported by development partners.
Reads the paper in part: “While policies that are implemented are broadly touted as being in the interest of smallholder farmers or indeed, farmers more broadly, stakeholders at each stage in the value chain have particular interests that they want to promote, often for selfish interests and motives.”
The paper observes that between 1970 and 1980, groundnuts were one of the leading cash crops exported to Europe and regional markets, but this trade collapsed at the turn of the 1990s.
It says production and exports of groundnuts collapsed due to the failure to contain aflatoxin contamination to acceptable levels as demanded by the European market.
During a recent visit to Afri-Oils Limited, a groundnuts processing factory at Njewa in Lilongwe, Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe decried continued informal exports of legumes, which results in loss of foreign exchange.
The factory processes about 4 000 metric tonnes of groundnuts annually and exports it to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya.