Small-scale village factories form a launching pad for the transformation of the country’s economy to produce for the export market, Zomba district trade and promotion officer Andrew Chingwandu has said.
Chingwandu said this to Malawi News Agency (Mana) when highlighting the successes and challenges facing Domasi Soya Milk and Peanut Butter Producers, a village factory managed and supervised by the district’s trade and promotion office.
He said Zomba is rich with resources and has the potential for growing rice, cassava, bananas and fish farming because 70 percent of the population is employed in the agricultural sector.
On the Domasi factory, Chingwandu said it is managed by villagers who process the produce themselves.
“The factory is run by a group of farmers from three group village heads of Minama, Mtwiche and Mtogolo and has 167 members comprising 37 males and 130 females.
“Members provide raw materials to their factory in form of ‘chankhokwe’ [shares] comprising two kilogrammes groundnuts and two kilogrammes soya beans,” he explained.
Chingwandu said the factory produces 60 litres of soya milk per week and sells to people surrounding the factory at K100 per litre.
He hopes that production will rise this year because the farmers have just accessed a K1.5 million (about $3 846) loan from the Malawi Rural Development Fund (Mardef) which will help to improve productivity.
The factory produces 200 bottles of 250 grammes peanut butter per week. The bottle is sold at K350.
“We supply 200 bottles of peanut butter out of 800 bottles produced to Malosa hospital every month and the rest is sold through One Village One Product (Ovop) office and other agents,” he said.
Chingwandu said the trade and promotion office has assisted in training the villagers to gain skills in quality control, factory cleanliness, marketing, business and financial management, apart from the actual designing of the labels on the bottles.
He said the farmers are linked to their Lilongwe Ovop Antenna Shop and other major shops as one way of increasing production.
“Our products are quite different from those on the market because they are nutritious, locally made, well packed and labelled. We are challenged by the escalation of prices of goods on the market because the cost of production has increased,” said Lissie Mussa, treasurer of the group.
She said Domasi Soya Milk and Peanut Butter Producers started operations in 2010 and their aim is to enhance people’s livelihoods through incomes.
Mussa said their two main products, soya milk and peanut butter, are produced using locally-sourced resources, and that their peanut butter is chemical free, non hydrogenated and good for one’s health.