The UK government, Malawi’s greatest development partner, has indicated that it is working to open up agro-business trade and investment for its former protectorate, Malawi, to get more Malawian products on British store shelves.
The remark was made by David Beer, the British High Commissioner to Lilongwe, during his keynote talk at the Malawi-UK Business Group high-level virtual networking event on Friday. Over 200 business leaders attended the event, which shared information and current prospects in Malawi’s agro-business sector.
Said Beer: “We would like to make Malawi’s Agro-business sector more competitive than the neighbours and we need to get more Malawian agro-products on the UK market.”
Beer said the UK is looking at developing countries like Malawi to access the UK agro-business market as a way to boost the sector.
The British envoy to Malawi said the UK is satisfied with Malawi’s commitment to fighting corruption and its continued efforts in cutting out the red-tape and eliminate bureaucratic tendencies in the Agro-business industry making it easy for trade and investment.
Apart from the UK High Commissioner to Lilongwe, David Beer, other keynote speakers at the conference included Malawi’s Trade and Industry Minister Sosten Gwengwe MP and Agriculture Deputy Minister Agnes Nkusa-Nkhoma MP.
Other presenters and panellists included: Greenbelt Authority CEO Amon Mluwira; Cannabis Regulatory Authority Chairman Bonface Kadzamira and Dr Ketulo Salipira; National Planning Commission (Vision 2063) CEO Dr Hope Chavula; MITC Chairman Mr Karl Chokhontho; Afrexim Bank Director Chandi Mwenebungu; and CDC Group Director Roman Frankel.
The was exceptionally moderated by Scotland-Malawi Partnership Chief Executive David Hope-Jones making it one of the very best digitally hosted events.
Trade and Industry Minister, Sosten Gwengwe said the Malawi Government has created a conducive environment and favourable conditions for the Agro-business to attract direct investment.
“Malawi Government is committed to promote and grow the country’s Agro-business sector and we are open for business. We encourage agro-processing as this helps the rapid growth of the industry and job creation.
“We would like to thank the UK government for their continued support. Malawi, as one of the least-developed countries, is set to benefit from the Developing Countries Trading Scheme, said Gwengwe.
Gwengwe appealed to the UK Diaspora Malawians to take part in the Agro-business development program being cultivated by the Malawi and UK governments through the Malawi-UK business Group.
He said: “Agro-business is the largest forex earner and the backbone of the Malawian economy and, therefore, I encourage the Malawi-UK Business Group to continue making strides in promoting Malawian trade and industry particularly the Agro-business sector.”
Agriculture Deputy Minister and Mchinji South parliamentarian, Agnes Nkusa-Nkhoma, attended the conference from the rural areas in a village in Mchinji District said agriculture is the country’s most significant sector and a driver of the economy.
“The Malawi 2063 Agenda places agriculture places Agro-business as a priority and President Chakwera’s administration have put in place deliberate policies that promote a vibrant agriculture sector.
“However, Malawi needs viable investments to flourish and I, therefore, appeal to investors in the UK to come to Malawi and invest as by investing in Malawi they will have opportunities to grab the SADC and the African continental market to which Malawi is a member,” said Nkusa-Nkhoma.
During the conference, various public and private entities in Malawi have had a platform to share ideas and information and were able to make new business contacts and have had direct discussions with key decision-makers in the industry.
Chief Executive Officer for Cannabis Regulatory Authority, Boniface Kadzamira and the Director-General Dr Ketulo Salipira outlined the importance and process involved in getting licensed.
“Malawi’s economy is agro-based and contributes 21 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and if we put so much in it our country can move up on the economic scale. We, therefore, encourage local farmers to form cooperatives so that they can participate in the cannabis industry, said Kadzamira.
Malawi-UK Business Group chairperson, Edgar Chibaka in his remarks praised the British High Commissioner to Malawi, David Beer for supporting the groups initiative but also thanked the Malawian High Commissioner to London Kena Mphonda for taking a lead in the groups concerted efforts in pushing for a better Agro-business industry in Malawi and the UK.
“I am pleased with the response and interest from the event and I would like to register my appreciation for everyone’s support as we are on the right path to increasing the amount of value-added Malawian products onto the international markets.”
Malawi has for so long depended on tobacco as the main cash crop, but with the winds of change blowing across the globe due to global warming, there is an urgent need to diversify and build up the agro-business sector at a faster pace in line with the new trends.
Malawi has a number of crops that can be elevated to cash earners, from coffee, cotton, medicinal and industrial cannabis, macadamia, beans, rice, soya, maize, groundnuts and many others.
The Malawi-UK Business Group, which was formed in November 2017, brings together key organisations and individuals in the UK engaged in business and trade with Malawi.