Responsible Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha was responding to Ntcheu North legislator’s query to consider banning the importation of horticulture products by big international outlets in a bid to promote the Best Buy Malawi campaign.
According to Assan Lipande, the move would also create a market for indigenous vegetable farmers who are producing a lot of onions, Irish potatoes and tomatoes but lack a market.
In response, the Agriculture Minister noted that proper implementation of the Buy Malawi strategy will streamline procurement of locally produced goods and services and empower them to produce more with a readily available market.
He pointed out that this will also stop citizen’s appetite for foreign goods which motivates international companies to import to Malawi due to the existing high demand of the products.
He spoke against the bans which he said are not the best option.
“Bans aren’t the best option but may result in trade wars with our partners and can have negative repercussions to the business community,” he cautioned.
As a member of regional groupings such as Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Mwanamvekha stressed on the need for the country to adhere to trade protocols and free trade than resorting to bans.
In an effort to improve the bargaining power of local producers, the Minister cited a business linkage programme being undertaken by the Ministry through organizing them into cooperatives.
He disclosed that the Ministry is in the process of developing an economic empowerment policy aimed at addressing trade challenges of agriculture products.
Assani also called on the Ministry to consider establishing refrigeration warehouses to cater for perishable goods.
Mwanamvekha explained that there is a programme with the African Development Bank (ADB) which is constructing over 21 warehouses across the country.
He implored on the parliamentarian to write a proposal with a feasibility study through the Ministry for him to benefit from the initiative.
Meanwhile Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya, apologized to members on the blackout which prevented them from meeting on Wednesday and announced that officers have been sent to procure another generator so that Parliament should have several alternatives in the event of a re-occurrence.