The Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) is implementing a $1 million (about K733 million) project under the African Development Bank (AfDB) to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of businesses along the Nacala Corridor.
The African Private Sector Assistance (Fapa)-Malawi Nacala Corridor Value Chain Development Project is targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the agro-processing sector to penetrate the regional markets through the Nacala Corridor.
Fapa is a trust fund hosted by the AfDB and financed with grant resources from the Japanese Government and the Austrian Federal Government.
In Malawi, the Fapa project is being implemented by Mitc, the one-stop investment hub.
Mitc spokesperson Deliby Chimbalu said the project will focus on promoting value addition and export of legumes.
“This project will provide capacity building and business linkage support to local businesses in the Nacala Corridor to enable them benefit from the large infrastructure development along the corridor,” she said.
Chimbalu said the project will facilitate access to finance for SMEs as this has been a big challenge facing many local businesses.
The development comes at a time when experts in agriculture have urged farmers to grow more legumes as an alternative to tobacco due to the worldwide anti-smoking lobby.
Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Alfred Kapichira Banda said legumes could be an alternative crop to tobacco in the long-term, stressing that the project such as Fapa can help farmers to know that there is a ready market for their crops.
“We encourage farmers to grow alternative crops and we should show them where they can sell. If projects such as Fapa can make a difference to farmers, they will surely increase production,” he said.
National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) chief executive officer Betty Chinyamunyamu said the legumes sector has potential only if it is well organised, markets are available and production is up-scaled.
Fapa aims to support the implementation of the AfDB’s private sector development strategy by providing untied grants for technical assistance and capacity building to African governments, regional economic communities and similar intergovernmental organisations, business associations and market regulatory institutions.