ETHCO in expansion drive, creates 100 jobs

Ethanol Company Limited (EthCo), a subsidiary of conglomerate Press Corporation Limited (PCL), is on an expansion drive to double production of ethanol from the current eight million litres to 17 million litres per year.

The ethanol-producing company plans to construct a sugar processing mill on 14 hectares of land it has recently acquired.ethanol

EthCo, together with its sister company from Chikwawa, Presscane, is currently championing the Ethanol Driven Vehicle Project (EDVP) to promote usage of ethanol as an alternative fuel.

Last week, EthCo paid K22 million ($28 834) in compensation to 23 people in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mphonda in Nkhotakota who have been displaced on the land the firm plans to construct the processing mill.

EthCo general manager Lusubilo Chakaniza, in an interview last week, said the company paid out the resettlement money to the villagers at Mpondagaga to acquire the 14 hectares of land to increase its ethanol production.

“We engaged the community to understand the benefit of the project and we used a company called Mlambe Consulting so that we follow due process.

“We also engaged government on the matter through the district commissioner’s office in Nkhotakota,” she said.

Chakaniza said they are delighted to have paid the people without any problems and will now focus on processing lease of the land to start construction of the sugar processing mill.

She said currently, EthCo depends on sugar molasses from nearby Illovo (Sugar) Malawi Limited for the production of ethanol, and with the new processing mill,  the company will be producing ethanol straight from sugar syrup.

The sugar processing mill is a boon for the people in the area as it will create jobs for 100 people within three years and more than 1 000 farmers will directly benefit as they will be selling their sugarcane to EthCo, according to Chakaniza.

Speaking earlier, T/A Mphonde hailed EthCo for bringing the project in his area, saying it will transform lives of many people.

“I know that we are going to benefit with the construction of the factory here through irrigation, electricity and jobs, but more importantly sugarcane farmers will reduce transport costs as they will be selling their crop right here,” he said.

Mphonde said all the 23 people who received compensation were satisfied with what they received.

Both EthCO and Presscane Limited have a combined annual capacity of 36 million litres of ethanol, but currently produce 24 million litres annually because of inadequate raw materials.

Malawi consumes about 110 million litres of petrol per year and it is envisaged that introduction of ethanol as a standalone fuel will reduce the fuel import bill since ethanol is locally produced.

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