Presidential aspirant for the country and Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Felix Jumbe has said too little has been done to achieve real progress in government’s Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).
Jumbe said although it is evident that the first step that Malawi needs to do to achieve sustainable economic recovery is value addition of agricultural produce government is busy with areas that require long term focus and investment.
He said what is happening now is not unusual , saying “the economy has been resuscitated with inflows from tobacco sales but what we keep losing track is our focus to add value on the farm produces which we
keep exporting raw.”
Jumbe said: “Our neighbouring countries such as Zambia are now greatly benefitting from the soya we produce here as they are processing it to various products on of them being soya pieces which is ironically a darling in many households in Malawi.
“The question is what is it that we don’t have as a country to process soya, because by rising to export raw cotton, raw coffee, raw tobacco, raw beans, raw tea we are not only exporting jobs but digging our own economic grave as these are the items we can use to become economically vibrant and earn more foreign exchange within the
shortest period of time rather than wait for projects that will only give us earnings in 10 to 30 years.”.
He said the reforms employed by government such as devaluation only helped in making imports expensive, thereby reducing them but has not assisted in bringing any forex into the country.
Jumbe also stressed the need for a change in mentality by the financial sector to massively bankroll the agriculture sector to address challenges of the production.
“I haven’t seen any bank extending loans to farmers to produce more so that we export more and earn a lot of forex and if the production side remains neglected then we will never get out of this economic quagmire,” said Jumbe.
Malawi government which used to champion its goal to turn the country into a predominantly exporting economy has slowly been trying to realize value addition of locally produced crops the major one being tobacco where cigarettes manufacturing is being championed by Nyasa Manufacturing Company.