Local producers are failing to take advantage of $1.2 billion (about K885 billion) market for various agricultural products due to low output, a development Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) says is worrisome.
The commodities include chillies, rice, beans, soya, groundnuts, macadamia, honey, sunflower and cotton seed, according to Mitc.
Mitc director of investment, promotion and facilitation Joshua Nthakomwa said in Mzuzu on Friday that producers are failing to meet the demand despite the one-stop trade and investment centre’s initiative to secure markets through various forums.
Some of the countries demanding products from Malawi include Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Dubai, China and Zambia.
Speaking during a clinic for small businesses he said the country’s production capacity is way below the demand.
He said Malawi is, therefore, losing out for failing to satisfy these markets.
“We have sourced so many markets, however, the problem is the supply side. We don’t have the capacity most of the times.
“We have ever given orders to local businesses and they only supply once and stop, and yet these international markets demand consistent supply,” said Nthakomwa.
In his presentation during the event, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute(Smedi) director of business information and training Edward Chilima said as an organisation that links small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to both local and international markets, it has discovered that many SMEs fail to supply due to financial constraints.
“We are working hard to come up with systems to improve access to finance and to build their capacity to sustain supply,” he said.
Figures from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism show that the country has about 987 000 SMEs.
The ministry’s deputy director of SMEs George Mwase said out of these SMEs, 98 percent are not registered, making it difficult for them to formally export their products.
He said SMEs face various challenges including weak policy and legal environment, weak traditional support institutions and coordination mechanisms. n