The Malawi Government, through the Green Belt Authority (GBA), has invested $8 million (about K6 billion) in Intensive Vegetable Farming Project in Lumbadzi, Lilongwe to take advantage of the local and export market.
GBA chief executive officer Henri Njoloma said in an interview on Tuesday in Blantyre that the vegetable project or greenhouse project, is a joint venture (JV) partnership with an Israeli-based Inosselia Commercial Limited, a subsidiary of Inosselia Investment Group, which is a global, progressive conglomerate of companies with a cross sector industry portfolio.
In the JV, the Israeli firm has 51 percent stake with the remaining 49 percent held by the Malawi Government
Njoloma said government has already secured 28 hactares where they will grow all types of vegetables in a project that is expected to create 500 jobs, with the first consignment to go on the market in April this year.
The project will take advantage of the 10 percent surcharge announced by Mwanamvekha in the 2019/20 National Budget on some imported goods that have local substitutes such as vegetables, fruits and sugar, among others.
Said Njoloma: “We have already secured deals because as you build greenhouses, you build one and you start planting right away. So, we will have 17 green houses.
“We have already secured markets. We will be selling locally in some upmarket super markets such as Shoprite and Chipiku. This is a demand-driven project.”
He said outside the country, they have also secured a market in South Africa, where they will be selling to Shoprite South Africa through its subsidiary in Mozambique.
The project, which is located close to Kamuzu International Airport, wants to encourage local production of vegetables to save foreign exchange.
Over the years, the country’s supermarkets have been flooded with imported fruits and vegetables, raising questions as to whether Malawian farmers have no capacity to supply the local market.
Njoloma said the close promixity to the airport is meant to target the Dubai market in the United Arab Emirates.
“We also want to take advantage of the flight from Emirates, which comes every Friday to deliver cargo and it goes back empty. We think we can be exporting vegetables to that market,” he said.
GBA has also secured land in Lunzu, Kammwamba, Neno and Chileka, close to Nkula for the same project.
In the 2019/20 National Budget, government allocated K800 million to GBA, which is 88 percent below the K7 billion the authority proposed.
Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development vice-chairperson Ulemu Chilapondwa is quoted as having said the money is not enough to enable the authority fulfill its engagement in the years.
GBA has been calling for public private partnerships.