Market visits in Lilongwe

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of posts by students from Michigan State University in the U.S. and LUANAR University in Malawi who participated in the Frugal Innovations Program of the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.

by Joel Phiri

Market visits were made on the 10th and 11th of August 2015 with the aim of familiarizing ourselves with the market situations in Malawi.

Thus four markets were visited: Tsoka, Central, Area 25A and Area 47 markets. Each visit was preceded by a power point discussion (facilitated by a faculty member) that equipped us with tools to be used to capture information at the markets.

Basically a simple check list developed by the LUANAR faculty members, which emphasized on observation as the basic method of collecting data, was used in both visits. A number of strengths and challenges were observed in these markets.


  • At least blameless displaying of produce e.g. fruits and vegetable
  • At least blameless quality produce; quite competitive to those in super markets e.g. fruits and vegetable
  • Produce processing was common i.e. maize flour, pepper (made into piripiri source)
  • Packaging i.e. the piripiri source was packaged in bottles for sale.
  • Interdependence among traders, e.g. those owning a restaurant will buy from vegetable, fish, flour and meat sellers and vice versa.


  • Poor quality water sources for cleaning fruits etc.
  • Congestion
  • Poor planning and space allocation basing on type of produce sold. More common in central and Tsoka markets due to congestion
  • Poor and in adequate infrastructure mostly temporary made of wood
  • Fire risk due to temporary infrastructures
  • Aggressive advertising strategies
  • Non available produce quality control mechanisms
  • Poor storage and preservation facility for perishable produce
  • Poor waste management

Way forward

From the presentation that was made by a Lilongwe city official (director of trade and commerce), a few suggestions were made of how to best tackle these challenges:

  • Building of multistory buildings to accommodate a larger number of sellers
  • Teaming up with investors in upgrading the markets
  • Reorganization of market structures
  • Vendor registration

Note: a prefeasibility study will be undertaken before implementing these strategies.

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