United Kingdom (UK) Minister for Africa Harriet Baldwin has described the three-year-old Blantyre-based Roseberry Farms Project as a milestone for Malawi’s horticulture, saying it has potential to penetrate the regional market.
Speaking during a tour of the facility on Friday, Baldwin said it is impressive that Roseberry Farms has an impact on the community.
She said the facility has great potential for the horticulture industry in Malawi and complements the goal of the owner to ensure that all local supermarkets are stocked with locally- grown vegetables and fruits.
Said Baldwin: “It is not just about the farm itself, but rather the multiplier effect that comes along with the facility. The innovation itself is impressive as it is helping not only the owner of the farm, but the smallholder farmers as well.
“This idea has great capacity to grow. We have met some of the women from a village 20 kilometres away who are also being trained in this technique and are using it to invest in their local communities. This is, therefore, an industry that can see a great deal of growth in Malawi given the right conditions with soil, water and climate.”
The company has set up a pack house and a cold room to stock 1 000 tonnes of vegetables per annum with 84 percent coming from the anchor farm and 16 percent from the outgrower section funded by the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund project (Micf).
Through the fund, a model outgrower irrigation scheme has also been set up in Bvumbwe, Thyolo, enabling smallholder farmers to grow vegetables which are also being supplied to the farm.
Baldwin has since reaffirmed the UK’s support to projects of this nature through the Micf.
“We have the Micf which has enabled this facility to be successful in bidding for the fund. The UK has a commitment to the people of Malawi with these kinds of aspects as well as investments we have seen here.”
Roseberry Farms founder and manager Ruth Kalima said the family-owned business will continue to make social impact, describing the visit by the UK minister as encouraging.
“We are pleased to have been acknowledged by the minister. This is encouraging and shows our project is growing and making an impact.
“We shall continue to focus on improving the livelihood of an average Malawian horticulture farmer with a mission to help grow the economy of the country by working smallholder farmers and improving their lives at a time until we get to be a net exporter of horticulture products,” she said.
Most of the chain stores are stocked with fruits and vegetables imported from South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Roseberry Farms—a private company—is set to transform the vegetable value chain in the country by setting up an inclusive business model for high value horticulture crops.
The farm occupies shelf space in all major retail chain stores such as Shoprite and People’s who were previously stocking imported vegetables.