A multibillion kwacha greenhouse-based vegetable farm is being developed at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe to provide a wide range of high quality vegetables to Malawi and will reduce the country’s heavy reliance on imported horticultural produce from South Africa.
There will be 16 hectors of green houses on 30 hectors of land which has been leased out on long-term by Airport Development Limited (ADL).
Each greenhouse is actually one hector.
The greenhouse farm will utilize state of the art technology and advanced farm management systems including having deep boreholes that will pump out underground water which will be used to irrigate the crops.
The project is a joint venture between an agency of the government of Malawi known as Green Belt Authority and Inosselia Agro, an international company.
According to officials from the two agencies, the greenhouse farm is “probably the biggest” in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region and will cultivate and market a wide range of superior produce at high quality, quantity and consistency to high-scale retailers in Malawi and to neighbouring regional markets.
So far, ten boreholes have been sunk, first four greenhouses are being built and all earthworks have been done.
Speaking during a tour of the farm on Thursday, Country Director for Inosselia Agro, Michael Gorelik, expressed satisfaction with the progress made, saying the project will have significant positives for Malawi and her economy.
“The impact will be huge. We intend to substitute imports from South Africa. Everything that comes from South Africa regarding fresh produce, we will be able to produce here at a better quality, at a better quantity and at a much better consistency.
“Anything from South Africa which finds its way in Malawian shops, 25% is added for transport. And a lot of forex is lost in the process. We will save all that for the country,” said Gorelik.
He then disclosed that the first planting of the horticultural crops will be done in June and that the first picking and harvesting of the crops–including tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, lettuce and others–would be done around August and be delivered to supper markets who will place requests.
Gorelik further said construction of all the 16 greenhouses – including a packing house, cold storage, pumping house, nursery and classroom for training -will be completed by the end of this year.
In his remarks, Green Belt Authority Chief Executive Officer, Dr Henrie Njoloma, concurred with Gorelik, stressing that the greenhouse farm will revolutionalize the horticulture sector in Malawi.
“This is a once off project that brings everybody to a certain international platform of standards which is a very huge change for Malawi.
“This is indeed the biggest project in SADC. Even in South Africa, there are never companies who run greenhouses of such magnitude,” he said.
The greenhouse farm, which has 180 employees including local people, will also be a training center, drawing together farmers, neighbouring communities and agricultural entrepreneurs to benefit from professional farm management lessons.
According to Airport Development Limited Chief Executive Officer, Rodah Gadama Misomali, ADL’s agreement with Green Belt Authority and Inosselia Agro is run under the build, operate and transfer arrangement, which, she said, is very beneficial to ADL.
She said the arrangement means that once the two agencies recover their investiments, the greenhouse farm infrastructure will be handed over to ADL and become part of the company’s assets.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :