MALAWI – Malawi has exported the first lot of about 240 tonnes of soya to China, the world’s largest importer of agricultural products, as part of the country’s drive to diversify and broaden its export base.

The shipping of the commodity was done by local firm, Paramount Holdings Limited, under the Chinese Soya Beans Protocol—an open trade pact which would see Lilongwe exporting the crop to Beijing.

Speaking in an interview, Mahesh Ghedhia, the firm’s Managing Director said that his company emerged successful after undergoing a thorough accreditation process by the Chinese Government to assess the quality of the produce.

This shipment opens doors for Malawian exporters and we plan to increase our volumes because the Chinese market is looking for 100 000 metric tonnes of soya beans,” he said.

Ghedhia, however, said the exports are subject to waivers that the ministries of Trade and Industry and Agriculture would give to exporters as soya beans are under export restrictions.

State-owned Malawi Investment Trade Centre (MITC) has been facilitating the processes.

In his remarks, Paul Kwengwere, MITC’s Chief Executive Officer said that the commencement of the export process under the deal marks a crucial step in testing the market for Malawian soya beans in China.

He said the venture does not only hold immense promise for Paramount Holdings but also reflects positively on Malawi’s potential to expand its agricultural exports and strengthen its economy.

“It is an open contract. For us, it is an achievement that we have broken into the Chinese market. That means as long as we can get enough soybeans that are balanced, we can easily export to China,” he noted.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Sosten Gwengwe, said the China export deal is a government-to-government agreement and, so far, they have signed protocols on soya beans, macadamia nuts, and dry chillies and negotiations are ongoing to sign protocols on tobacco, tea and ornamental fish.

While commending the move in a separate interview, local agricultural policy expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said the country should work towards enhancing output to satisfy the available markets. He recommended revamping the extension services, among other interventions.

“If you look at the demand that is there in most international markets, Malawi fails to meet. Last year, there were demands from Kenya and Tanzania of over 150,000 metric tonnes of soya, but the country could not produce even half of that,” he revealed.

In 2023, Malawi exported US$6.9 million (K12 billion) worth of soya beans from US$2 million (K3.5 billion) the previous year, according to the 2024 Malawi Government Annual Economic Report.

This year, the country is projected to produce about 235,487 metric tonnes of soybeans according to the third and final round estimate from the Ministry of Agriculture.

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