1. Nuts in Malawi are naturally grown without the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides. Malawi’s nuts are thus deemed to be organically grown.
  2. Malawi ranks 1st in Africa in terms of productivity per hacture with an average of 940kg/ha. This gives Malawi a competitive advantage on the Africa market.
  3. New seed varieties developed by ICRISAT, offer large yield improvements which gives Malawi a competitive advantage.
  4. Malawi has got favourable topography for groundnuts production especially in the central part of Malawi which is flat with fertile soil. This gives Malawi a competitive edge for Malawi to produce more.
  5. Until the recent past Malawi had few warehousing facilities for commodities. However, warehouse construction has grown exponentially due to increase in number of companies dealing in commodities. Coincidentally, these warehouses have been built in the areas where ground nuts is produced. This gives a competitive advantage in reducing the perishability levels of groundnuts as it waits for the market.
  6. Most of the processing companies have satellite offices in the rural areas where most of the farmers sale their groundnuts. This improves efficiency in storage and transporting groundnuts from farmers to the processing companies, thereby improving production efficiency and competitiveness.
  7. Transportation cost within Malawi is relatively higher because the country solely relies on road transport as its intermal rail network is not fully operational. However, the groundnuts growing areas are close to the business centres i.e. the major cities thereby making the cost of transportation reasonable for business.


  1. Malawi’s major exporters of groundnuts offer the quality and size of groundnut required by customers.
  2. The nuts have a rich and full flavour, ideal for confectionery, oil extraction for cooking oil, and peanut butter manufacture.
  3. The key processors of groundnuts in Malawi ensure Quality Controlled nuts through hand shelling and ensuring any rotten shrivelled or small groundnuts are removed that at farm level. The nuts are carefully sized according to the needs of the buyer.
  4. Malawi organises testing for aflatoxin levels[1] in Lilongwe or through the well-respected Perishable   Products for Export Control Board (PPECB) laboratory in South Africa.
  5. The major export markets for Malawi’s are neighbouring countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These countries combined account for 95% of Malawi’s production of groundnuts.

Logistically, the close proximity of the product’s major markets, substantially reduces the cost of transport for groundnut exports as well as the lead time for the product to reach its destinations. This strategic geographic proximity also reduces the risk loss, damage and contamination from the farm gate to the destination market.

  1. Malawi faces 10 percent tariff barrier in Tanzania, and no tariff barrier in the South African market. Malawi has a low level of exports to both Kenya and Zimbabwe in groundnuts and none to Rwanda. None of these countries present Malawi with tariff barriers or significant non-tariff barriers.

There is thus an opportunity to increase market share in other countries within the region and exploit the zero rated tariff opportunities.

  1. The road network within Malawi and to its main export destination countries is quite acceptable. There are also numerous freight tracking companies transporting goods within the region in respose to this road network.

However, road transport is relatively expensive compared to rail transport. Unfortunately, the rail transport system connecting Malawi to its export destination countries for groundnuts is not fully developed. Malawi is exploring policies to focus on increased liberalisation in trade in services to lower transport costs and increase competitiveness in these regions .


There have been a number of reforms to enable the business environment including the operationalization of Malawi Investment and Trade Centre as one stop service centre.

Malawi ranked 157 in 2013 doing business report by the World Bank.

Export Procedures Duration



Documents Preparation 21 285
Custom clearance and technical control 2 100
Ports and terminal handling 4 240
Inland transportation and handling 7 500

Challenges and Constraints

  1. Most of groundnuts produced in Malawi is grown on a small scale by smallholder farmers for subsistence purposes with limited commercial producers. The farmers are also highly fragmented. This affects their production capacity and adoption of advanced technologies i.e. post harvest technologies.
  2. Smallholder farmers use inefficient production techniques meaning that they experience low yields comparable to what is possible:
  • Use of recycled seed
  • Lack of access to improved seeds due to high cost of the seed and failure by research institutions to prepare the seeds
  • Inability to adopt advanced harvet technology due to high cost of accessing harvesting machines
  1. More than 80% of the groundnuts producing areas (land) remain under rainfed cultivation. This affects groundnuts productivity owing to weather shocks and natural disasters e.g. droghts and floods.
  2. Poor storage techniques lead to large losses before crops can be brought to market.
  3. Inability to control Aflatoxin levels, preventing them from exporting to the EU.
  4. Reliance on a few export markets leaving the country’s exports vulnerable to any distabilization in the markets


  1. Adopting irrigation system
  2. Enable the business environment for commercial production.
  3. Improve logistics
  4. Awareness campaigns for smallholder producers for commercial production
  5. Smallholder farmers to move from fragmented production to a cluster system
  6. Explore more trade opportunities in SADC, COMESA, and EAC and identify new opportunities in Asian markets

The Malawi National Export Strategy (2013 – 2018) has singled out the Oil Seeds cluster as a key area of focus for export. Groundnuts has further been identified as a key oil seed under the cluster and measures to address production and market challenges have beed detailed in the strategy.

Taking advantage of the rapid regional growth and market access secured through the SADC, COMESA, and EAC.