Chakwera insists on more value addition on agricultural produce

* Value addition is in line with the country’s development blue print, MW2063

* Which is premised on innovation in the exploitation of local resources to create national wealth that is inclusive

By Yamikani Sabola, MANA

On his visit to Kwithu Kitchen — a women-owned food processing cooperative in Mzuzu — President Lazarus Chakwera says there is need to scale up value addition to the country’s raw materials to boost their competitiveness on both domestic and export markets.


He said various players in the country’s economy should put up joint efforts in increasing volumes of manufactured products to substitute imported ones that put a drain on foreign currency reserves.

“I am very impressed by Kwithu Kitchen’s huge investment in processing plants to add value to agricultural produce, including tomatoes and honey,” he said. “This is the way to go in order to ensure that the country’s economy grows sustainably.”

He said value addition is in line with the country’s development blue print, MW2063, which is premised on innovation in the exploitation of local resources to create national wealth that is inclusive.

Kwithu Kitchen co-founder Dr. Ann Msowoya Keys said the organisation, which started in 2013, grew out of Kwithu Women’s Group that was formed as a community-based organisation (CBO) to feed vulnerable children.

Msowoya said with help from Maloto, a US-based non-profit organisation, the CBO saw a business opportunity in processing tomatoes on a much larger scale, and they registered instant success on the market.

She said they started taking orders from big supermarkets and hotels for supply of their processed tomato products.

“Kwithu Kitchen expanded its product line in April 2020 and began processing high quality Malawian honey. Kwithu Kitchen immediately became the largest honey supplier in the country.

“Our products are found in major supermarkets in the country including Shoprite, Sana and Chipiku Plus, as well as in major hotel chains like the Sunbird Hotels and in many restaurants and institutions,” she said.

The President also visited Nthola-Illola Rice Processing Plant in Karonga last Monday to appreciate the factory’s contribution to value addition chain in rice production and marketing.

The irrigation Scheme is under GreenBelt Authority (GBA), whose Chief Executive Officer Eric Chidzungu said besides the establishment of the plant, the facility motivates farmers to produce high quality rice.

The plant which will be producing 50 tons of rice per day while also ensuring that the rice is of great quality, starting from the field up to processing — which include value addition for farmers to maximise their gains.

Also yesterday, Chakwera visited 520-hectare Tropha Estate Limited’s Kaweche Farm in Mzimba District, which falls within government’s vision of promoting establishment of private mega farms.

Chakwera was impressed with how the estate works and would like other stakeholders in the agriculture sector to meet similar standards: “The main idea behind the private mega farm is to create opportunity for increased agriculture production and value addition, thereby increasing exports earnings for generation of forex.

“Mega farms will also help in addressing food security challenges and poverty in the country. However, this can work only if we put in place proper regulations to ensure that our products satisfy global markets, as is the case at the farm which I have just visited.”

He then assured that government is doing everything possible to ensure that more people benefit from the private mega farm initiative.

Traditional Authority Mtwalo attested that Kaweche Farm is a model in the Northern Region and the country as a whole since it has provided employment to over 1,000 workers.

“Aside boosting agricultural businesses for over 2,000 farmers who are working in partnership with this estate, it has 1,000 employees,” Mtwalo said.  “As a district, we are ready to support government in the mega farm initiative which we are sure will benefit us all.”

Tropha Estate Limited Managing Director, Duncan McDavid thanked government for supporting the mega farm initiative, which encourages communities to work in partnership with such institutions.

” We grow, process and export macadamia nuts, chilies, paprika and piripiri in partnership with about 2,500 smallholder farmers,” McDavid said.

Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said his Ministry is doing everything possible to support, with required expertise, people who are interested to venture into the mega farm initiative.

Malawi exports about 17,000 metric tonnes of macadamia nuts, and this contributes about K40 billion to the country’s export earnings annually.—Reporting from Mzimba by Rose Cross Mahorya