Afri-Oils Limited on Thursday opened a multi-billion kwacha groundnut processing factory in Lilongwe with expectations of boosting the country’s groundnuts industry and providing a ready market to farmers.
Afri-Oils Limited Chairperson, Tim de Borde, said the firm seeks to move smallholder farmers up the value chain, while expanding the volume of fair trade and other value-added peanuts produced for international and domestic markets.
Borde also challenged the farmers to produce more groundnuts to keep the factory running all year round.
He said Afri-Oils plans to increase the number of farmers supplying to the factory from the current 20, 000 to over 48, 000.
“We want to increase the volume of quality groundnuts sold by farmers to from less than 100 tonnes to 1,500 tonnes and to strengthen the organisational systems of farmer groups to ensure long term business viability and economic sustainability,” Borde said.
He said the firm has started exporting to neighbouring Zambia with plans to export to Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“The groundnut industry here in Malawi has a long tradition but the challenge it faces is that it has not been able to processes export quality groundnuts.
So, we decided, as a group of investors, to build a factory that would meet class standards. This is the first year that we have had the factory running and we have exported nearly 3,000 tonnes of groundnuts,” Borde said.
Deputy Director of Industry in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Clement Phangaphanga, said Malawi stands to benefit a lot from the facility by earning forex through exports.