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Chakwera launches $3 million groundnuts factory

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Mark Katsonga Phiri

President Lazarus Chakwera Monday launched the second largest groundnuts factory in Africa, which was built in Lilongwe to the tune of $3 million.

The factory, owned by Pyxus Agriculture Limited, is projected to employ 2,000 people with a possibility of increasing the income base of 30,000 people and has contracted close to 7000 farmers.

The President hailed the investment indicating the need for a multi-sectoral approach to job creation, driven by a “collegial partnership” between the government and private sector to build industries that add value to locally produced materials.

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Chakwera said he has already unveiled a five-point Presidential Initiative on Job Creation and that his administration has completed drafting the National Strategy on Job Creation as a guiding blueprint.

He has directed the Minister of Labour to engage with all relevant ministries in rendering support to the private sector to ensure multi-sectoral implementation of the strategy.

“If we are serious about growing the economy, then we must accept that a multi-sectoral approach to job creation, driven by a collegial partnership between the government and private sector to build industries that add value to locally produced materials, is nonnegotiable,” he said.

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The Malawi leader said he outlined the initiative’s five-point plan for engaging the private sector as a partner in job creation.

The five points are; creating an enabling environment for agro-business, strengthening partnerships with the private sector, tackling barriers, building the infrastructure needed to support jobs and supporting young people’s participation in the economy.

He said what Pyxus has done is a deliberate movement in the strategic direction of agro-industrialisation, which his administration has prioritised as a core driver for achieving “our goals of job creation, wealth creation and food security”.

“We must build on our strengths, and there is no debate about what Malawi’s strength is. Our greatest strength is agricultural production, and what Pyxus has done here is to invest in an asset that builds on that strength,” he said.

Pyxus Agriculture Limited Managing Director Ronald Ngwira, said the factory has the potential to unlock agro-industrialisation which is in line with the government’s transformation agenda.

Ngwira said they have already invested in research and development, upfront investment in irrigation and mechanisation, trained extension workers and the installation of the factory.

“Today marks an exciting gateway for this great nation to unlock agro industrialisation, which is in line with the transformation agenda,” he said.

Minister of Trade Mark Katsonga Phiri said, in Malawi, groundnuts have been regarded as an ordinary crop, “but that will end soon”.

He said focusing on value addition to crops like groundnuts would reduce the country’s dependence on tobacco.

The facility gets groundnuts in shells, cleans, shells and sorts them before packaging.

The factory also eyes making charcoal from shells and, in the next two years, it will be manufacturing several products including cooking oil and peanut butter.

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