Speaking after the committee visited the Salima Sugar factory and the sugarcane fields under irrigation from water pumped from Lake Malawi, Mr Mpaweni expressed surprise that such a huge project of enormous economic potential existed under the Greenbelt Project.
“It is imperative for Malawians to know that the Greenbelt is undertaking such a giant project in partnership with investors from India. This is one of the best Public Private Partnerships models that require Government and the private sector support,” said Mpaweni in an interview.
The legislators were taken round the sugar factory, which also produces its own electricity and has the potential to generate up to 3 megawats, from baggase and is used to run the factory. The Members of Parliament also visited sugarcane fields and were overwhelmed with the irrigation infrastructure installed on the farm.
Member of Parliament for Phalombe East Amos Mailosi, who is a member of the committee, said the irrigation project at Salima Sugar was a model that must be supported because it has the potential to turn around the economy. “What we have seen here, is contrary to what people say about Greenbelt. This project truly represents the aspirations of this nation to become an export country. Value addition is taking place here and unemployment levels being reduced,” he said, adding that Government and the Private Sector must begin to turn towards commercial irrigation farming in this country.
Speaking in an interview, Chief Executive Officer of the Greenbelt Authority, Dr Henrie Njoloma said the country has the capacity to produce all kinds of crops and livestock through irrigation farming.
“We desire to create wealth for Malawians. We have the land and we have the water,” he said. He added that the Greenbelt Authority has over 24 thousand hectares of land available and challenged investors, local and international to invest on that land.
“We will guarantee them security for their investment and market for their products,” Dr Njoloma said. He however said there was need to pump in huge capital investment into irrigated Agriculture, observing that available resources were limiting the capacity of the Greenbelt Authority to exploit its potential.
“We are constantly in touch with the Government on funding issues and they have promised to look into our needs. We are sure we will get the funding we desire and Malawi will not be the same in the next few years in terms of commercial irrigation farming,” he said.
Salima Sugar is a joint venture between Uym Sugar Limited and the Greenbelt Initiative Holdings Limited. The company has over 500 hectares of land being cultivated by smallholder farmers and over 1000 hectares allocated to medium scale farmers. The 4000 hactares of the land is under the Salima Sugar.