Malawi Government has said it is committed to promote small-scale factories to create business and employment opportunities in rural areas.
Minister of Industry and Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, said this when he visited Tithokoze Lime-makers Cooperative Limited in Lirangwe, Traditional Authority Chigaru, Blantyre last week.
The minister said the country can only achieve sustainable growth if rural communities are empowered.
“Government recognises the need to promote small-scale factories that can help transform, create business and employment opportunities in rural areas,” said Gwengwe.
But the cooperative’s vice-chairperson, Lydia Kawesi, said the growth of their factory is stifled by uncontrolled importation of Ndola Lime from Zambia.
Kawesi said despite their lime being certified by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), most contractors still go for Ndola Lime, saying this is making it difficult for their factory to realise its full potential.
But the minister assured them that government will find ways of surmounting the challenge to enable local factories grow and flourish.
“I assured them that their problems will be sorted out because it is President Joyce Banda’s wish that local companies become vibrant,” he said.
Blantyre district commissioner Charles Makanga said the cooperative is one of the exemplary community initiatives in the district.
The factory has capacity to produce up to 1.6 tonnes of lime in a day, but it is currently operating below capacity due to low demand for their product.
The group started in the 1980s when President Joyce Banda, then at National Association of Business Women (Nabw) gave them a grant of K500 000 to build the factory and buy a diesel engine.
In 2009, government bought them a K11 million machine to start producing lime under the One Village One Product (Ovop). —Mana