The Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe has observed continued informal exports of legumes, as Afri-Oils Limited chief executive officer Tim de Borde noted that there is little control on how legumes are traded; hence, there is little formal market.
It is no surprise that Malawi is exporting legumes mostly on informal basis, as over the years, legume farmers have bemoaned the lack of a stable market, or worse, cheap price offers to their crops. Earlier this year, the Legumes Development Trust (LDT) said that the Covid-19 travel restrictions have affected export markets, therefore markets of the commodity are lacking.
LDT manager Sangwani Makoko said the situation is worse, considering that Admarc is incapable of buying legumes from farmers. Last year, the LDT called for more investments in the legume sector to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The call followed after the 2019/2020 National Budget allocated K1.8 billion for improved legume production. “The legume industry is in its infant stage, as much as we appreciate the initiative and recognition by the government, we say K1.8 billion is not enough.” said LDT chairperson responsible for value chain and markets, Vincent Mpaluko.
Adding to the already happening chaos is the pandemic that has restricted exports. However the commodity was not performing prior to the pandemic; Figures from the International Trade Centre (ITC) show that legumes export have been declining since 2015, as by then, $58.5 million was profited in legume exports which has gradually lowered over the years, to $15.8 million in 2018.