Castel Malawi has unveiled plans to contract local commercial farmers to grow maize and rice to be used as raw materials in the production of malt beer.
The firm’s head of external affairs Godwin Ng’oma said in an interview on Thursday that they have already held talks with the Ministry of Trade of their plans.
“We have been importing about five to 10 000 metric tonnes of these raw materials for our beer production per year,” he said.
N’goma said in Madagascar, where Castel Group is also operating, the company works with local commercial farmers on contract and want to replicate the same in Malawi.
He said Castel Malawi plans to increase output of Malawi Gin and Sobo Squash for export to earn the country foreign exchange.
On his part, Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe confirmed the talks with Castel Malawi, which he said are ongoing.
He said empowering locals such as commercial farmers is a priority for the new government.
Said Gwengwe: “For us, we are looking at import substitution and even exporting to neighbouring countries. Castel has such farmers in other countries where it is present.
“Apart from import substitution, Castel’s decision to produce malt locally directly provides business to local farmers.”
The minister said government will also enhance the Buy Malawi Strategy campaign to boost local manufacturing firms.
The country’s trade balance—the difference between imports and exports—remains wide, with experts blaming it on government laxity in championing economic diversification.
Trade analysts also blame the country’s poor showing on exports on failure to utilise various market preferences under different trade agreements such as the European Union Everything But Arms, the Cotonou Agreement and its successor Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the United States African Growth and Opportunity Act.