Mtalimanja Rice Project chief executive officer Richard Kamchacha has disclosed that three commercial banks have shown interest to fund the organisation after being impressed with the progress so far made at the rice scheme.
According to Kamchacha, the banks that have shown interest include National Bank and Standard Bank while Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) already gave them a loan during the previous growing season.
Said Kamchacha: “We are happy that finally banks and other financial institutions have seen the importance of this project. Initially we were being labelled as start-up business and banks were reluctant to help. Now there has been a change of heart.Recently, officials from National Bank and Standard Bank visited the project and were impressed with what they saw and are ready to help us with loans.”
He said MSB were the first to pump in money when they helped the institution to purchase tractors, fertiliser and even seed which was distributed to farmers during the previous growing season.
“We are very happy with the interest shown by banks because this project has the potential to transform the agriculture sector as we will be able to produce rice which can feed the whole country and some for export to the rest of the Sadc region and other European countries,” said Kamchacha.
Officials from Standard Bank and National Bank while confirming their visit to the Mtalimanja project declined to shed more light, saying they needed the consent of their client.
Kamchacha also disclosed that the institution has so far pumped in $4 million and four technicians from China are on the way to install machines for processing paddy.
“The machines are already in Beira (Mozambique) and the Chinese technicians from Lianyungngang Huantai Machinery Company will be in by next week to fix them. This project is one of the biggest in this part of Africa and so far 7 000 farmers are already on site and our plans going forward are that we should produce rice over two times a year,” said Kamchacha.
Farmers Union President Alfred Kapichira Banda said the Mtalimanja Project deserves the support of every Malawian because it will transform the economy further.
“As a country we should diversify our economy and what Mtalimanja is doing is complementing government efforts as regards the Green Belt initiative. If 7 000 farmers are on site producing rice then we have the potential to export rice to the rest of the Sadc region,” said Banda.
According to Kamchacha the polished rice will be sold locally and internationally while the husks will be used to make ceiling boards and briquettes.