The Minister of Industry Roy Kachale Banda says his ministry is working towards revitalizing the operations of factory shells run by cooperatives to enable them achieve the objectives for which the facilities were established.
Kachale Banda made the remarks in Blantyre on Wednesday when he toured Mankhamba Bee Keeping and Kunthembwe Producers and Marketing Limited Cooperatives.
The minister toured the institutions to appreciate the challenges they are facing in their desire to contribute towards creating an industrialized economy.
It was established that despite having facilities to enable them add value to agricultural products before offering them for sale, Mankhamba Bee Keeping and Kunthembwe Producers and Marketing Limited Cooperatives have not started their operations because of the absence of electricity and water supply, among other challenges.
Kachale said the Tonse Alliance-led administration is concerned that some factory shells provided to cooperatives under programmes such as One Village One Product (OVOP) remain idle, years after they were constructed; hence, the decision to push for their operationalization.
“We will invite the ministry responsible for energy and ESCOM to a roundtable discussion on what we can do to expedite the process to bring electricity to the facilities,” he said.
He also disclosed that his ministry would identify experts to train cooperatives on how best they can process their products to meet the desired quality as well as imparting them with business management skills, which seem to be a common challenge among cooperatives.
Mankhamba Bee Keeping has a warehouse, but need machinery and electricity to start processing and add value to honey they produce.
On the other hand, Kunthembwe Producers and Marketing Limited Cooperatives, despite having a warehouse and equipment for processing groundnuts into cooking oil and groundnuts flour processing, is not operating because ESCOM has taken ages without connecting it to its grid.
Value addition has been highlighted as one of the key areas of focus for the attainment of the country’s long-term objective of “an inclusively wealthy nation” under the Malawi 2063 agenda.