Ovop rural factories go uncompleted for 11 years
An inspection by the Office of the Auditor General on selected One Village One Product factories whose construction started in 2010 has revealed that the factories remain unfinished, some 11 years down the line.
The Auditor General’s office conducted the inspection in November 2021.
According to the audit, the Public Finance Management Act (2003), Section 10 (1) states that it is the responsibility of controlling officers to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to safeguard public resources.
“Interviews with officers revealed that the ministry started constructing factories in 2010 to support small cooperatives to process their products through the value addition section, which was popularly known as One Village One Product.
“However, a verification exercise conducted in November 2021, on a sample of factories that were constructed, revealed that some factories were not functioning as operating machines were not installed and electricity not connected,” the report says.
The audit report has sighted the Mankhamba honey processing factory in Blantyre, where machines were not installed and the factory is not operational.
A similar situation was recorded at Nambuma in Dowa where a soya milk and cooking oil processing factory is just lying idle as machines have not been installed and power is not connected.
At Chezi in Dowa, a tomato processing factory lies idle as machines were installed but power was not connected.
A similar situation was seen at Kunthembwe in Blantyre where a cooking oil processing factory is not running despite the machines being installed due to lack of electricity.
When contacted on why the factories were not running, Secretary for Small and Medium Enterprises in the Ministry of Trade Francis Zuwawo asked Times Business to call him on Tuesday saying he did not have information on the projects.
Ovop is a Japanese regional development programme which originated in Oita, Japan in 1979, by the then governor Morihiko Hiramatsu.
In January this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Nancy Tembo disclosed plans to revamp Ovop in collaboration with the Japanese government and align it to Malawi 2063.
According to Tembo, Malawi, being an agro-based economy, with agriculture contributing about 25 percent to the country’s gross domestic product, needs to ensure that the country moves from subsistence to commercialised agriculture.
“The best way is to ensure that there is value-addition and if communities get together to grow a particular crop, it is easy to do value-addition in that area; hence, the need to revamp Ovop and see how best we can improve it,” Tembo said.
Japanese Ambassador to Malawi Yoichi Oya said Japan is committed to supporting Malawi in various fields, including revamping Ovop