Malawi Mangoes Limited, a Salima-based commercial fruit farming and processing enterprise, says it has invested $5 million (about K4 billion) to boost production to meet domestic and global demand for dry mangoes.
In an interview yesterday, the firm’s general manager Charlie Leaper said the investment will see the expansion of the processing factory and the development of about 1 000 hectares of drip irrigation land as well as supporting smallholder mango out-grower farmers.
He said: “The demand for dry mangoes has been triggered by demand for high nutrients food needs globally and dry mangoes have a long shelf life.
“The spread of Covid-19 pandemic has seen demand for foods rich in Vitamin C and mangoes are rich in such vitamins.”
Leaper said there is also high demand for Malawi Mangoes products in African regional markets because West African countries have short supply of the produce.
So far, the firm has been selling dry mangoes to India, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
But Leaper said demand on the domestic market has also gone up, including some new external markets in the United Kingdom and United States of America.
Malawi Mangoes, which is under Green Belt Authority (GBA), uses drip irrigation and taps water from Lake Malawi.
GBA acting chief executive officer Amon Mluwira said in an interview yesterday that Malawi Mangoes Limited is critical for the economy as it brings in foreign exchange.
He said that in 2019, the firm’s annual return was $5 million.
Said Mluwira: “Working with the company, we intend to invest more to develop more hectarage to meet market demand.
“This will lead to the creation of more permanent and indirect jobs and more small-scale farmers will benefit from ready markets.”
He said small-scale farmers are being assisted with extension services and hybrid mango high-value seeds, which will replace ordinary mangoes that farmers have been producing.
Mluwira said with the dwindling earnings from tobacco, the country’s key cash crop which brings in about 60 percent of the country’s foreign exchange, mangoes can be part of the diversification efforts in line with the National Export Strategy II.
Malawi Mangoes is a fruit producer that develops its own agricultural operations and smallholder sourcing schemes as well as pulp processing and distribution capacity to target the growing global demand for tropical fruit purées.
The firm has a community outreach programme with over 5 000 smallholder farmers on a 30-kilometre radius around its processing facility.
Malawi Mangoes started its operations in Salima in 2009 to develop a fruit company that will enhance economic growth through a financially viable and commercially driven business.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector financing arm of the World Bank Group, gave $5 million investment to Malawi Mangoes in 2014, which supported the company to establish the company in the country.
The IFC capital injection into Malawi Mangoes was meant to help the firm to create rural jobs.
An analysis of the mango value chain in Malawi by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy showed that the majority of mangoes in Malawi are sold informally with less than one percent entering food chain stores.
The analysis indicated that few mangoes are exported, primarily by Malawi Mangoes.