Rice farmers in Nkhotakota have hailed the just completed K8.3 billion Mtalimanja Rice Milling Plant, saying it has come at the right time as it would help them realise more revenue.
The farmers say the multi-billion kwacha plant will also ensure they have access to markets for their rice.
The modern plant, which is computerised from weighing to packaging, has the capacity to produce 200 metric tonnes (200 000 kilogramme) of rice per day.
Aisha Banda, a grower of rice along the wetlands of Lake Malawi in Nkhotakota, said prospects are good because of the plant as she will be selling her produce at a competitive price.
She said since she started growing the crop in the early 1990s, her profit margins have been unsatisfactory.
“I used to sell a 50kg bag of rice at less than K6 000 to vendors, but the same quantity is now fetching K10 000. I am now living a comfortable life knowing I have a readily available market for my crop at a reasonable price,” said Banda.
Another farmer, Akiwa Mpishi, concurred with Banda’s sentiments.
He grows rice on two hectares and has described the plant as a relief to famers who have suffered in terms of pricing for decades.
“I have been in rice farming for some years, but I only managed to buy my long time needs last year when I started selling my rice to this company. We are only hoping for this good relationship to continue because this is a win-win situation,” he said.
Senior Chief Malengachanzi from the district also expressed optimism that the establishment of the company would improve the livelihoods of people in the area, describing the development as a welcome idea.
He, however, called for more support from extension workers and other organisations to help rice farmers with advice and farm inputs to increase production.
In an interview this week, Mtalimanja Holdings Limited managing director David Kamchacha said the company is working towards developing more schemes to incorporate more famers.
He said they hope to increase rice production to meet local and international demand.
Kamchacha said small-scale farmers have been left out in Malawi’s efforts to attain great strides in rice production.
“Given proper support, we believe that farmers have the potential to grow more rice which would in the end not only benefit them, but the country at large,” said Kamchacha.
He observed that farmers need support in technology and inputs to enhance quality output and quality.
Said Kamchacha: “We need partnerships with other organisations in the agriculture sector to support the farmers with storage facilities and inputs.
“We want them to move away from using a hoe to mechanisation farming. Probably government can help the farmers in the area or the tractors to ease their farming.”
He called for farmers to organise themselves in cooperatives to speak with one voice.
The rice milling plant, according to Kamchacha, comprises silos and a drier and full production is expected to be attained in May. n