Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc managing director Lekani Katandula says Malawians should not panic as the company is supplying enough sugar on the domestic market.
Speaking on Saturday when the Minister of Trade and Industry Mark Katsonga Phiri visited Illovo’s Nchalo Estate and Factory, Katandula said they have for the past five days provided over 600 tonnes daily to the market, which is beyond the normal market consumption of 400 to 500 tonnes a day.
Katsonga Phiri (2ndR) tastes sugar at one of the production stages
He said: “But that is not looking like adequate supply because of the panic buying among Malawians that is prevailing in different parts of the country, pushing the price of one kilogramme sugar packet above the recommended K900.”
Katandula said they will flood the market with sugar in the next seven days as the challenges they had between the end of April and start of May are getting less.
He said: “Our sugar prices at the official exchange rates are lower than in Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania. This resulted in arbitrage trade. It was an indirect way of getting forex.
“Informal traders were illegally exporting sugar from Malawi to these countries to get forex to buy goods there.”
He said Illovo had reserved enough sugar to feed the market up to May for domestic market when it closed sugarcane crushing season in mid-December 2021, but the trade increased the local consumption that depleted reserves earlier than anticipated.
Katandula said: “When we started our factories in April, we could not bring in enough sugarcanes as trucks got stuck in muddy farms because it was still raining. Now fields are getting dry and we are accessing more canes, allowing us to operate at our normal levels.
“The overpricing will drop naturally once Malawians realise that sugar is being oversupplied on the market.”
Katsonga Phiri asked the firm to increase production to adequately serve the market with sugar this week.
He also urged Malawians to desist from buying sugar at exorbitant prices to contribute to addressing the panic on the commodity.