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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Boost Cross-Border Trade for Food Security

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

Source: Interpress News Service Agency