Harvesting and selling of produce from Inosselia Agro and Green Belt Authority (GBA) greenhouse-based vegetable farm at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe, is starting this week–finally ending Malawi’s reliance on horticultural produce imported from South Africa.
Tal Amit–an Israeli agronomist who is the manager at the farm–disclosed this when some top government officials led by GBA acting chief executive officer Amon Mluwira, toured the site to appreciate the progress the project is making.
Amit said the produce–comprising tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and melons–will be harvested from three greenhouses that are so far operational at the farm which is supposed to have 16 greenhouses–each stretching across a hacter.
He said there is a huge amount of fruits and vegetables for the Malawian market and expressed hope that there will be enough demand so the produce could be sold to all interested buyers.
“We will start with half a tonne of cucumbers per week that will increase to one tonne and then two tonnes per week. We will have tomatoes in a month’s time, starting with one or two tonnes per week and then increase up to six tonnes per week,” said Amit.
During the tour, it was noted that most of the crops–sprouting from irrigated Sri Lankan cocopeat bags–have really grown with some of them, especially the cucumbers, being laden with almost mature fruits.
Inosselia Agro, a global investment company, partnered with the Government of Malawi through GBA in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement which has resulted in a joint venture agreement that is financing and now developing one of the biggest greenhouse vegetable farms in southern Africa, employing about 200 people–most of them being Malawians living around the airport.
Inosselia has 51 percent shares, bringing into the partnership its intensive international experience and expertise in planning, funding, establishing, operating and managing exactly these types of high value-added agricultural enterprises.
On the other hand, GBA has 49 percent shares in the project which utilizes state of the art technology and advanced irrigation farming management systems in order to provide a wide range of high quality horticultural produce to Malawi and international markets.
According to Amit, Inosselia Agro and GBA have already entered into agreements with upmarket shops such as Spar, Chipiku Plus and Shoprite–to be the points of sell for their produce across the country.
He added that Shoprite shops in Chipata in Zambia and Tete in Mozambique, will also be selling these fruits and vegetables from Malawi.
However, Amit said the local market will be the priority with only the exceeds of the produce going on the international scene in order to generate and save foreign exchange for the country.
And Inosselia Agro Country Director, Michael Gorelik, added that the company and the farm project are dedicated to support and assist the goverment of Malawi and neighboring communities by implementing corporate social responsibility projects.
“For instance, Inosselia is partnering with Standard Bank to establish smaller greenhouses dedicated to training and knowledge transfer. This will be part and parcel of the non-farm training center components,” he said.
In his remarks, Mluwira expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the project is progressing, saying Malawians–especially those working on the farm–will attain experience in modern irrigation technology.
“This project is one of the critical successful examples of a PPP. Malawi will benefit alot in terms of agriculture development because what is happening here is in tandem with the current agenda of the government which is to ensure agriculture transformation, food security and also promote trade and commerce in agriculture,” said Mluwira
As the project rolls on, local people working on the farm are building their professional capacities and acquiring high-technological skills of modern farm operations and management which they are expected to share with scores of smallholder farmers in order to generate interest for large scale and more profitable horticultural farming in the country.
According to Amit–the farm will, by the end of next month, have eight complete greenhouses ready for use.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :