Malawi’s Ministry of Industry and Trade is still in consultations regarding the recipients of the four dhal plants, causing a delay in the value addition process.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Wiskes Nkombezi, has attributed the delay to the consultations taking place on the matter.
He said the public will be informed once those consultations are finalised.
Government in 2011 bought the dhal plants and cotton ginneries from India for processing pigeon peas and cotton, respectively, in its efforts to revitalise the agriculture sector through value addition.
While the cotton ginneries were already handed over to Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), the grain marketer’s chief executive officer Dr. Jerry Jana indicated recently that the dhal plants have been lying idle in their warehouse for three months now.
But Nkombezi, in an e-mailed response to questions there are suggestions that some equipment should be given to cooperatives while others contend that they should go to private sector players who would have to work with Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and smallholder farmers.
“The concrete picture and nature of the beneficiaries will be known once the discussions on the criteria are finalized,” he said.
Nkombezi said the equipment arrived in bits and pieces and government wanted to ascertain that all the pieces arrived safely in the country, hoping that the consultations would be done before the end of the 2012/13 financial year.
“The ministry would like to get the maximum benefits and improve value-addition of
pigeon peas in the country using these machines. That is why we would like to do thorough work to achieve such objectives with the plants,” he said.
The value addition could harmonise with the National Export Strategy (NES) to complement tobacco and drive exports through value addition, mostly to neighbouring and regional markets.
Among other value added products will be cooking oil, varnishes, flours, bio-fuel, animal feed, snacks and confectionery derived from sunflower, groundnuts, soya and cotton, among others.
Other products are sugar cane products such as high value sugar through branding, sugar confectionery, such as syrups, sweets, caramel, sweeteners, ethanol, spirits and cane juice.