Salima Sugar Factory output is expected to rise by 167 percent this year thanks to increased sugarcane production both on the company’s field and supplies from smallholder farmers.
The figures show that output will increase to 12 000 metric tonnes (MT) from last year’s 4 500MT.
The sugar company, whose investment is worth $90 million (about K68 billion), is a public private partnership (PPP) between Indian investors, owning 60 percent and Malawi Government which owns the remaining 40 percent stake and operates under the Green Belt Authority (GBA).
In a written response, GBA spokesperson Maganizo Mazeze said the factory expects sugarcane output of 180 000MT from last year’s 30 000MT.
“Our production is on schedule. It is a gradual process, considering that we started in 2016. To reach the levels we are in 2018, it is remarkable on our part,” he said.
Mazeze said the maximum production capacity is expected to be achieved in 2020 when 6 000 hectares (ha) will be under cultivation for sugarcane from the current 1 500 ha, a development that will enable the factory to operate at full capacity.
“Our core objective is not to be in competition with anyone. We have to provide a product that is competitive and, therefore, provide Malawians an alternative from what is available on the market.
“With the high demand of sugar, we are sure to be a force on the industry once we start production at full capacity,” he said.
Mazeze said the company plans to start exporting sugar in the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) trade bloc after satisfying the local market.
GBA has set aside 1 000 ha which it allocated to medium-scale farmers who are using high-tech irrigation system.
The development, according to Mazeze, has motivated Malawians to engage in commercial sugarcane farming, which has created jobs.
Salima-based Lingadzi Sugarcane Growers Association chairperson John Msalira confirmed being allocated land for sugarcane farming.
“The factory indeed allocated two hectares each to 250 members of the association. What is happening is that for the land to be developed, the company obtained a loan from a bank and the agreement is that the factory should develop and cultivate sugarcane for three seasons to pay back the loan and thereafter the land will be given to us to continue growing sugarcane and sell to the factory,” he said.