Malawi’s newly-appointed Industry and Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe has said his major task during his tenure would be to push for rural industrialisation throughout the country.
The minister was sharing his vision with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde who was in the country for a three-day visit.
In an interview on Monday, Gwengwe said he will encourage farmers to add value to their produce in mini factories to be established in strategic places in the country.
“I shared my vision with Lagarde and she said the idea of setting up mini factories is a brilliant one,” he said.
Gwengwe said his idea is borrowed from the 1970s when Malawi had a vibrant township and village enterprises (TVEs) which fast tracked development in rural areas.
The minister, who also claimed to have shared the idea with Malawi’s top entrepreneurs, said by establishing the mini factories, rural areas will open up and economic opportunities will trickle down to the masses.
“For example, if we have a lot of soya beans in Dedza, we should be able to set up a mini factory to produce soya meat, milk and other products. We can do the same at Jenda in Mzimba and other places with abundant farm produce,” said Gwengwe.
He, however, noted that for the vision to materialise both government and donors need to pump in money into the project.
He said Malawi has so many cooperatives that are only in production base and not in marketing.
Gwengwe said such a situation encourages exportation of raw products, which denies the country of employment opportunities and foreign exchange.
He said different institutions have shown interest in help rural people to add value to their primary products.
Gwengwe said his ministry is also eyeing the establishment of a bank for cooperatives to supplement the Export Development Fund (EDF) to propel rural industrialisation.