By Nganati

Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) says Malawi government should take a bold step towards focusing on promoting trade, and not aid, to ensure the economy is transformed and earns more forex for the country.

This was said on the sidelines of a budget consultative meeting with various stakeholders held on Wednesday at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.

Speaking when making his contribution at the meeting, an Economic researcher at ECAMA, Lucius Pawa, said for this to work, government needs to be aggressive to look for market and ensure the country diversify more in producing other commodities such as cotton, apart from tobacco.

“For this to work, Government needs to diversify in producing other commodities that will fetch good Market such as cotton and not tobacco alone. For example, statistics show that in 2020 cotton earned huge sums of money across the globe while Malawi only benefitted $2.2 million.

“This is one area in which as ECAMA we feel that government should do more and be aggressive to look for markets,” said Pawa.

In his submission, Program Coordinator at Oxfam, Kondwani Mubisa, said it is high time the country required a new diversification strategy that will promote production of more other crops  such as macadamia and soya nuts to improve exports.

“We also need to look at Decentralization of registration of cooperatives across the country because this will enable more farmers to join cooperatives and produce more that could in the end improve on exports.

“Government should as well invest more in rural road infrastructure so the farmers can produce more and be able to access markets hence adding value to Malawi’s economy,” said Mubisa.

However, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Simplex Chithyola, said despite other challenges, the country expects a gradual economic recovery with a growth of 3.2 percent in 2024 on account of the improvements in the availability of foreign exchange and investments made in the agriculture sector.

The Minister said it is also worth noting that government is focusing on diversifying economic activities that are aimed at recovering, as well as development of a strategy to protect the economy.“For example, to develop this economy government has embarked fully on supporting the private sector to venture into MEGA farms through the Malawi Agricultural, Industrial Investment Cooperation to produce for both local and export markets,” said Chithyola.

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