BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)– The country’s consumers have expressed great concerns over the scarcity of sugar, which some traders have taken advantage of by selling the commodity at an exorbitant price of MK1,200. This is contrary to its factory price of MK680 per 1 kilogram.
A spot-check in some retail shops in the capital Lilongwe, show that the commodity is scarce, but if found, it is trading in the ranges of MK900 and MK1,200 per 1kg. In the major chain retail shops including Game stores, Shoprite and Chipiku, they have maintained the average price ranging from MK700 to MK800.
The development comes amid economic hardship the country is currently experiencing.
This has also angered the consumer rights body, the Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), which demanded comprehensive explanations from both Illovo Sugar Limited (the man sugar producer), and Ministry of Industry and Trade, why there is scarcity and the high prices of the commodity.
CAMA’s press statement released on Tuesday, and made available to The Maravi Post, expressed sadness over the matter, saying the situation has forced consumers to pay more and making life difficult.
The statement signed by CAMA’s Executive Director John Kapito, states that sugar is one of the essential commodities and its importance to Malawi’s economy and the citizens’ wellbeing, cannot be overemphasized.
Kapito said it is therefore, surprising that despite assurances by the company that it is producing enough sugar to meet the demand, the sugar scarcity situation is daily getting worse, and there is no effort to address the scarcity.
He added that sugar remains a protected product against imports, and it is disheartening that Illovo takes advantage of that protection by punishing Malawian consumers.
“Consumers across the country, are now being forced to pay between MK950 and MK1,000 for a 1 kilogram packet of sugar, than the recommended retail price of MK750; and what is shocking, though, is the failure by the producing company, Illovo Sugar Malawi-Limited, to explain to the nation why the commodity is not available on the market.
“CAMA is therefore, asking the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, to allow other traders to import sugar from other countries, to address the crisis which has undermined the Buy Malawi campaign. We are also asking Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited, to explain to the nation why we have sugar scarcity,” urges Kapito.
But Illovo Sugar Limited Spokesperson Irene Phalula, assured consumers of the availability of the commodity, saying the company was producing enough sugar to ensure that the product is available on the market.
Phalula said that with the new cane growing at both Nchalo and Dwangwa estates, the company planned to purchase over 420,000 tons of sugarcane from 3,700 farmers.
She added that Illovo anticipates a satisfactory 2017/2018 milling season, with more than sufficient production of sugar to cater for both domestic and export demand.