Agro-industry will play a key role in the creation of one million jobs, which the new government promised Malawians ahead of the June 23 court-sanctioned presidential election.
Minister of Industry Roy Kachali said this during a visit on Wednesday to Blantyre-based Tehilah Bakery, which processes Orange Freshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) into bread and Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited in Limbe.
He pointed out that agro-processing using local materials as witnessed at Tehilah and Illovo is a sure way to create jobs in the country.
Kachale pledged that the ministry will support operators and farmers cooperatives that are in agro-processing and those aiming at processing their farm produce for local or export markets.
He said government will do this by building their capacities, helping them to get licenses and remove bottlenecks that have been hindering them from progressing quality products.
“I have visited several shops and to my surprise I have found that 70 percent of the foods which are made from farm produce are imported; hence, we have to end this culture by producing locally,” said Kachali.
Speaking during the minister’s visit, Tehilah Bakery Jean Pankuku said two agro-processors are meeting lots of challenges, including unreliable power supply.
She said: “Escom told me to pay K10 million for a transformer only. This is quite huge amount for a small-scale business; hence, I do not know how I am going to access the electricity to power the bakery.”
While Illovo Sugar Company Lekani Leslie Katandula said illegal imports of sugar crowds out locally manufactured sugar which forces the firm to sell the surplus outside the country at very low prices.
This, he said, has affected Illovo’s profitability, cane grower’s income, and the tax that the government collects annually.
“Some of the imports coming in are licensed by the government and we have been telling the government the negative part of it to us as the company, farmers and the country at large but it has paid a deaf ear to our pleas,” said worried Katandula. n