Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Boost cross-border trade for food security

Boost Cross-Border Trade for Food Security

Lewis Mwanangombe

LUSAKA, Aug 3 (IPS) – Small-scale traders on either side of the Mwami Border
Post between Zambia and Malawi are key to meeting local demands that larger
importers do not.

During acute food shortages in Malawi during the drought in the early 1990s,
small-scale traders brought maize across the border from Zambia to Malawi;
the same traders bought unused fertiliser in Malawi and brought it back to
Zambia. At the time, Zambia had adequate rainfall, but serious problems with
fertiliser imports left farmers short of the critical farm input.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa recognises this kind of
activity as key to ensuring supply and access to basic needs by border
communities, able to quickly meet local demand that larger importers ignore.

A Simplified Trade Regime which waives all customs duties and taxes on
shipments worth $500 has now been in operation for three months. The STR is
intended to strengthen food security as well as improving rural incomes for
smaller traders.

The kind and quantity of food available on one side of the border is often
quite different from just 20 or 50 kilometers away.

For example in the Luangwa valley of Chama District on the Zambian side,
significant quantities of rice are grown; a strong market for this exists
across the border where conditions are ill-suited to grow rice. With the
price of rice imported from faraway places like Thailand rising steeply in
the global food price hike in 2008-2009, the Zambian farmers can find a
ready niche for their crops.

In Chipata town, fish is scarce, meaning opportunities for fishing
communities on Lake Malawi have opportunities to supply an important source
of protein from across the border.

The STR dovetails neatly with trade programmes such as the 10 million euro
Regional Food Security and Risk Management programme (REFORM) of the
European Union, which aims to help small traders increase the supply of
locally-produced food crossing borders.

“(REFORM) specifically aims at improving regional and national trade, social
protection and disaster risk management,” Alexander Baum, head of the
European Union Delegation in Malawi said.

“And one component of this programme is to enhance Cross Border Trade in
agricultural commodities and is implemented by COMESA. Indeed, areas of
surplus food production should have ready access to markets, especially
those close to borders. A stable and uninterrupted demand for food from
neighbours will result in farmers in surplus regions investing more to
ensure long-term supply.”

Simplified tariffs will also benefit a different class of small-scale
traders. In Lusaka’s “COMESA Market” – named for and situated behind the
headquarters of the actual headquarters of the regional trade body – much of
the merchandise is cheaper than equivalents in formal retail outlets like
the multinational-chain store Shoprite. This is mainly because they are
brought into the country in small amounts by small traders who evade
official border posts.

Aggrippa Miti says he buys the goods he sells at the market from petty
traders near the Mwami Border Post.

Miti explains that he calls someone on the Malawi side of the border to
explain what goods he needs. “When I go to Mwami, I will find them –
sometimes stored in a safe house in a small village. I pay and bring them to
Chipata where I will load them on the bus leaves early in the morning.”

“There are many people who bring in things from Malawi. Some will come
through the border post, but many do so using [clandestine] routes that are
known here as ‘zalewa’,” Gloria Mwape an official at the border post told

Felix Mutati, the Zambian Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, observes
that the new rules are eliminating bribes and corrupt practices that were
endemic and border posts like Mwami as well as encouraging traders who
previously evaded the border post to bring their goods through it, enabling
both countries to gain a better picture of real volumes of trade between

“The old rules led some traders to go round the check points at the border
for fear of paying high customs duties and other taxes on even small amounts
of goods,” Mutati said.

He is confident that the STR will also encourage increased trade of goods
between the neighbours. In June, Zambia initiated the Simplified Tariff
regime to cover Zimbabwe as well.


Tobacco sales fetch US$258m

Tobacco sales fetch US$258m    Herald 3/7/2020 Herald Reporter Tobacco sales have reached 110 million kilogrammes worth US$258 million, with deliveries to contract companies and

Read More »

Agric tops micro-finance loan book

Agric tops micro-finance loan book  Herald 12/9/2019   Mr Chitambo Fradreck Gorwe Business Reporter Good rains anticipated countrywide during the 2019/20 farming season, have seen agriculture

Read More »

New Posts:

From the archives

Posts from our archive you may find interesting