Chief rural development officer in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Francis Sakala has said Government has shifted infrastructure development to integrated rural development to effectively improve the majority of people’s lives in remote areas.
Speaking in Mangochi after opening a five-day workshop for Trainer of Trainers on wine and fish processing, Sakala said time has now come when government should direct her resources towards integrated rural development in a bid to comprehensively improve lives of people in rural areas of the country.
He said gone are the days when government could only channel its resources to rural infrastructure development such as construction of school blocks, roads, bridges among others, noting that such focus was leaving out other equally important socio – economic aspects.
“Government is now shifting its attention to intergraded rural development by empowering local communities to do businesses to earn a living since some of the beneficiaries use the money earned from their business activities to pay school fees as well as service medical bills,” Sakala said.
He pointed out that Malawians have abundant resources such as fruits that could enable them produce wine and other fruit by-products, emphasising that what people lack are the skills for coming up with good quality products which could attract better prices on the market.
“Obviously the country is endowed with all sorts of fruits which just require that farmers should be equipped with skills for production of high quality products which can fetch good prices both locally and internationally,” Sakala added.
He emphasised that the aim of the workshop was to impart skills and knowledge to small and medium enterprises in Mangochi on how to process wine and fish for them to meet international standards.
Sakala also said after processing the products the government will intervene in identifying markets for the producers and that the products should be sold at competitive prices.
Country director for World University Services of Canada, Jacob Mapemba said University is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development on Local Economic Development Project under the Local Development Fund.
Mapemba said the aim of the project was to deepen small and medium enterprises by transferring skills on how to process wine and fish besides engaging in making shoes through a training needs assessment.
“It is good to note that some of the small and medium enterprises here in Mangochi are selling their processed wine to some established institutions in the district which is a very positive development,” Mapemba said.
He said currently there are training 30 small and medium entrepreneurs. The first ten were being drilled in wine processing, ten in fish processing while the remaining ten are being taken through the process of making shoes. The shoe making training is being conducted in Lilongwe.
Acting director of planning and development for Mangochi District Council, Ernest Kadzokoya said the training will help small and medium enterprises in Mangochi to acquire skills on processing of wine and fish hence coming up with quality products in the end.
Kadzokoya said the district has plenty resources but that people lack skills to add value to the resources, noting that the training will address some of the challenges small and medium enterprises in Mangochi face in the areas of packaging, quality and standards among others.
He, therefore, encouraged the participants to share what they will learn with their fellow counterparts since not all could be accommodated.