Malawi Mangoes, an inclusive business in African agricultural arena based in Salima, has acquired an additional 1 780 hectares following negotiations it had with villagers and government.
The company will be managing the land under a land tenure arrangement with Malawi Government, through the Green Belt Initiative (GBI) and the local community.
This means that government will acquire the land, thereby retaining ownership and will grant a management contract to Malawi Mangoes.
Currently, Malawi Mangoes exports its fruit puree to Coca Cola, Ceres and Pepsi Company, among others.
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi confirmed in an interview on Friday that they are in the process of completing negotiations with chiefs around Nyunyu Farm in Salima.
He said: “Initially, the GBI was looking for 3 000 hectares to be managed by Malawi Mangoes, but it was proving difficult for them to get the land. When they engaged us we assisted by negotiating with the locals so that they should not see Malawi Mangoes as land grabbers because the land is customary and ownership is being retained by the State.
“My ministry also undertook compensation assessments and people have already received their money. Over K200 million has already been paid through the district commissioner’s office.”
Muluzi said they have already instituted administrative reforms to reduce the time for processing and registration of land from 69 days to 21 days to ensure that investors are not frustrated.
Malawi Mangoes co-founder and joint managing director Jonathan Jacobs confirmed in an interview last week to have paid about K232 million to residents on behalf of Malawi Government to acquire the land.
“While we understand the legal process of acquisition by government is not yet complete, the Ministry of Lands has been instrumental in the progress, which has been made to date.
“We plan to invest about $12 million [K9 billion] on the new land over the next three years to construct roads, drainage and bring Escom power and of course the efficient and value for money drip irrigation system,” he said.
Jacobs said within the next two years, they plan to employ about 2 000 people from the surrounding areas.
Currently, Malawi Mangoes employs over 1 000 permanent staff and exports several hundred of tonnes of products to South Africa and Europe.