Malawi has the capacity to produce all kinds of crops and livestock if irrigation farming was scaled up, Greenbelt Authority chief executive officer Henrie Njoloma has said.
In ensuring food sustenance, former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika launched the Greenbelt Initiative (GBI) along the fresh water Lake Malawi and other irrigable areas.
Njoloma in an interview in light of the recent visit to the Salima Sugar Factory, a joint venture between Uym Sugar Limited and the Greenbelt Initiative Holdings Limited, said the authority has over 24 000 hectares of land available for irrigation farming and challenged investors both locally and internationally to invest in various irrigation projects.
“We desire to create wealth for Malawians. We have the land and we have the water and we guarantee them security for their investment and market for their products.
“We are constantly in touch with the government on funding issues and they have promised to look into our needs. We are sure we will get the funding we desire and Malawi will not be the same in the next few years in terms of commercial irrigation farming,” he said.
In the trial period of production of 2015 to 2017, Salima Sugar Factory has produced over 8 000 metric tonnes. The sugar is sold locally.
The company has over 500 hectares of land being cultivated by smallholder farmers and over 1 000 hectares allocated to medium scale farmers. The 4 000 hactares of the land is under the Salima sugar.
Parliamentary Committee on Governance, Quality Assurance and Public Sector Reforms has since applauded the Greenbelt Authority for the 6 000 hectares Salima Sugar project.
The multi-billion kwacha sugar factory already started producing and marketing sugar, and according to committee chairperson Aufi Mpaweni, the business model at Salima Sugar Factory must be replicated in other potential irrigation sites.
In an interview on Wednesday, Mpaweni said the project has an enormous economic potential.
Speaking separately, Amos Mailosi, who is a member of the committee, said the irrigation project at Salima Sugar Factory was a model that must be supported because it has the potential to turn around the economy.
“What we have seen, is contrary to what people say. This project truly represents the aspirations of this nation to become an export country. Value addition is taking place here and unemployment levels have reduced in the district,” he said.