LILONGWE, Malawi will allow local farmers to resume exporting maize after a two-year ban following a larger-than-expected 2017 maize harvest, the country’s minister of trade Joseph Mwanavekha said.

“Government is ready to lift the ban and issue export licenses only to traders with proof that they bought maize for export and for farmers if they grow maize specifically for export,” Mwanavekha said but did not give an exact date for the lifting of the ban.

Malawi said in February maize production would rise a third in 2017 to 3.2 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), a body that stands for the interests of farmers in the country, says it wants government to open an export window for maize; and, government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has said it is ready to issue the licenses.

According to FUM, maize prices in the eastern region of Africa range from $300 to $700 per metric ton which are far above what buyers in the country offer.

The union said the suggestion is strictly for the purpose that farmers in the country should benefit from their hard work.

FUM President Alfred Kapichira said in a media statement that if agreed to the suggestion “will ease pressure on the domestic market and allow demand for maize to pick up which will push up maize prices to the benefit of producers.”

Added the statement: “Admarc should prioritise most of its domestic maize purchase direct from farmers to create a healthy competition with private traders as opposed to procuring it from private traders.”

And, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Joseph Mwanamveka, said any person or farmer who wants to export maize “should have evidence that the maize that the maize was bought specifically for export.”

Added Mwanamveka: “We are ready to issue license to anybody should they grow maize specifically for commercial purposes.”