Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (Sugam) has cited increasing sugarcane smuggling and low prices on the international market to be the main challenges to the declining of prices offered by the lone sugarcane buyer, Illovo Sugar Malawi PLC.
Sugam chairperson, Frighton Njolomole said Illovo (Plc) indicated that the decline comes following low prices being offered on the international market and heavy smuggling of sugarcane into the country.
The statistics indicate that in 2018 milling season sugarcane for farmers in Dwangwa fetched up to K302,000 per tonne of sugar which has drastically reduced in 2019 milling season up to K235,000.
“During the 2018 milling season, the final price of sugar offered to the smallholder growers in Dwangwa was at K302,290.00 per tonne of sugar while the projected final price for the 2019 milling season was at K235,658.00 per tonne of sugar.
“This implies that the prices of sugar will drop by almost K66,663.00 per tonne which is equivalent to 22 percent and this is despite the prices of other inputs such as labour, fertilizers and chemicals keeping on rising,” he said.
Njolomole, therefore, called on government to intervene on prices and other government departments to tighten border security so that there is a complete halt to the smuggling of sugar into the country.
“Government should intervene in this crisis and assist smallholder farmers in reviewing the prices and where possible the lowest price should remain the provisional price which farmers were receiving during the 2019 milling season,” Njolomole added.
In his reaction, spokesperson in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Mayeso Msokera said government is currently in the process of reviewing concerns raised by the Sugam secretariat and that investigations involving all parties will be conducted.
“We have received formal communication from the Sugam secretariat on some challenges affecting the sugarcane industry. Further investigations involving all parties will be carried out soon in order to gather more information and find lasting solutions on the matter,” Msokera said.
Sugam has about 8000 members based in Chikwawa and Nkhotakota.