Green Belt Authority has announced that the much-awaited Nthola-Ilola-Ngosi Rice Irrigation Scheme in Karonga District will start operating in January 2022.
The authority’s acting chief executive officer Amon Mluwila said this on Saturday in the council during a district executive committee meeting.
He said government has released K1 billion to start the project.
Mluwila said among other infrastructure, the project is expected to have a warehouse and a rice milling plant which will be used for value-adding and proper packaging of rice.
He said: “The project is expected to open business opportunities for those in the crop processing, trading and export business.
“Input suppliers will also benefit from the project as it will widen the market for inputs.”
Mluwila further said the project is expected to create about 300 permanent jobs and thousands of casual jobs.
“We are starting this project with a ready market across the globe. Farmers will access those markets through the cooperatives they will form because we don’t want to compromise on quality,” he said
Karonga District director of planning and development David Gondwe said they expect the project to change people’s livelihoods.
On his part, Twiyule Cooperative chairperson Tabu Swilambo welcomed the initiative, saying it will promote their farming activities.
He said: “We harvest a lot of rice, but we do not benefit from the sale because we do not add any value to it.
“So, the factory will help in value addition.”
About 631 hactares (ha) is expected to be used to develop the scheme.
Malawi has 600 000 ha of the land that can be used for rice production. If this area was fully utilised, the country could produce at least three million tonnes of rice per year.