Emirates Airlines Veep for Cargo-Africa to Help Malawian Farmers Showcase at Food Show in Dubai
President Chakwera had a meeting with Emirates Airlines Vice President responsible for Cargo Operations in Africa, Mr. Khalid Hinai, and Regional Finance and Administration Manager (Gulf, Middle East, and Iran). During the meeting, Mr. Hinai renewed their previous commitment of sponsoring air tickets for farmers who are in cooperatives to fly to Dubai from Lusaka to attend the Food Show in February 2022. This is an event where countries showcase their agricultural food products. This offer was previously made but nothing materialized.
There is a huge market in the Middle East for agricultural products and previously Emirates Airlines arranged a meeting between customers in Dubai and farmers in Malawi. During that particular meeting, it transpired that some farmers have the capacity to produce enough for Emirates Airlines to double their cargo flights to Malawi. The challenge however was logistical issues at Kamuzu International Airport in terms of screening, loading, warehousing, and cold storage. He informed the President that during one of the official trips to Dubai by Hon. Eisenhower Mkaka, Mr. Hinai took advantage of his presence and asked for an audience to discuss this. Since that meeting, there has been some traction as Hon. Mkaka engaged relevant ministers in Malawi.
President Chakwera assured the members present during the meeting that as President and Minister of Transport he will work closely with the Ministers of Agriculture and Trade to make sure that these logistical issues are looked into and sorted. He further explained that Export Development Fund was set aside to be looking at such issues.
President Chakwera thanked Emirates Airlines through Mr. Hinai for offering to sponsor Malawian farmers to showcase their products at Dubai Food Show. He further said that this is actually what Malawi needs and is in line with his vision of helping farmers find markets outside Malawi as this can help to boost our economy.
Currently, the cost of air cargo from Dubai to Malawi is expensive because there is nothing to get from Malawi on the return leg. Emirates Airlines try to minimize that by routing their flight in such a way that from Malawi it goes to get agricultural products from Uganda. That dead leg between Lilongwe and Kampala increase the costs of air cargo.
Mr. Hinai assured the President that products from Malawi can be sold beyond Dubai as there is demand for such products.
Mr. Lloyd Mahowe explained that in Dubai supermarkets like Carrefour, agricultural products are sold in such a way that they have tags from their country of origin like Mangoes from Kenya or Tomatoes from Uganda. If your country produces good products, you tend to get huge demand.
Diverting from the cargo issues, the President spoke of passenger flights between Lilongwe and Dubai. In as much as there might be less traffic, it can be possible to link Malawi with another country the way Emirates Airlines does it with Brazil and Argentina where the flight from Dubai to Argentina makes a stopover in Brazil. Mr. Hinai assured the President that he will inform his counterpart to engage Malawi on that and went on to say that they have always considered that before.
Commenting on these developments during the meeting, Eng. Vitumbiko Mumba said it all depends on leadership. What Malawi need are leadership and we have the right leadership as a country to move forward.