By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Henry Mussa, on Monday stormed selected supermarkets in Lilongwe to check if they are stocking locally made fruits and vegetables.
According to officials from the ministry, the decision was made following complaints from the Horticulture Farmers Association of Malawi that local farmers are losing out on business due to importation of such products in supermarkets
Among other places, Mussa visited Food Lovers Market and Shoprite at the gateway mall, City Supermarket at the city mall and Chipiku Plus at the Game Complex.
Mussa said he was not impressed with some shops which did not stock locally produced vegetables but quite happy with some that stocked between 40 and 50 percent of local products among their fruits and vegetables.
“We wanted to check how our shopping malls are complying or supporting the Buy Malawi Strategy. You can see that there are those that are really committed to supporting the strategy and there are also those that are more into the mindset of importing commodities that are readily available in Malawi.
“We will sit down and see how best we can engage those that are not supporting the strategy. I am saying support because we have a liberalised market that allows such approaches but we have our people that need to be supported,” Mussa said.
Fresh Foods Manager at Gateway Mall Shoprite, Andrew Banda, told Mussa that the shops are mostly stocked with imported fruits and vegetables because local farmers fail to consistently meet the demand.
His sentiments were echoed by Retail Operations Manager at Chipiku Plus, Philip Bence, who said they face challenges with quality and packaging of products from the local farmers.
“We do support local farmers out there when they come to sell their products here. The challenge is consistency of supply. But 50 to 55 percent of our fruits and vegetables are supplied locally,” Bence said.
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