A new firm, Mount Meru Millers, has invested $25 million (about K18 billion) to set up a cooking oil factory, creating 250 jobs in Dowa District.
The plant, located at Mgubo Village near Lumbadzi Trading Centre, is the fifth factory the company has opened in sub-Saharan Africa with others in Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda.
The firm is producing cooking oil packaged in in 250 millitres (ml) and 500ml bottles and one, five, 10 and 20 litre bottles.
Soyola, one of the products, is 100 per cent soya bean refined cooking oil while merugold is a vegetable oil blended with different kinds of oil.
In an interview, the firm’s chief operations officer Jitesh Shah explained in an interview on Friday that despite being in petroleum services business, their core business is cooking oil production.
He said: “We have a big ambition for the Malawi market as we want to help government reduce unemployment. Not only that, we are also helping Malawi generate foreign exchange because as we crush the soy, the flour is exported to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia for animal feed.”
Shah said they set up the factory to utilise the soya that is grown locally.
“We are happy to give farmers better prices and we are looking for huge volumes of soya because our machines can crush 500 tonnes of soya beans per day, which means that we can produce 200 000 litres of cooking oil in a day,” he said.
In an interview, two farmers who have benefited from the firm and sell their soya to the company— Philimon, Chikuni and Grace Gama— said the coming in of the company has provided farmers in the area with a ready market for their crop.
“We had no market for our soya beans but now we can grow as much as we can because we know that it will be bought by the company,” said
Apart from selling the products locally, the company plans to penetrate the export market in two year’s time.
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) spokesperson Deliby Chimbalu yesterday said the firm is one of the investors they have been working with and facilitated their ease of getting licences and permits.