President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has assured that Malawi is on the right course to development despite facing economic challenges.
President Mutharika said this on Monday when he visited sugar factory in Salima under the Greenbelt Initiative to check on its progress saying the challenges would be dealt with shortly.
“I have always desired to see the progress of the Green Belt Initiative because this is one of the flagships of my Government. The Green Belt Initiative is key in our achievement of these goals, and this sugar factory is part of the vision,” President Mutharika said.
He said the Greenbelt Initiative was planned to use the available land and water resources to increase agricultural production.
This would increase incomes of the people and improve food security at both household and national levels.
He said the sugar factory would directly help in creating wealth because it increase the exports as the government strives to make Malawi a predominantly exporting nation.
“Increasing sugar production is also part of the diversification of our sources of revenue. The project will bring the much needed foreign exchange earning into the country. We have relied on tobacco for too long, and we are set to diversify our export commodities through the Greenbelt Initiative,” he said.
The sugar project is expected to create more job opportunities for Malawians in the sugarcane plantations, the processing factory and transportation activities.
This would boost economic activities hence bringing rural development to Khombedza area.
He disclosed that the government has decided to transform the Green Belt Initiative into a Public Trust and a GBI Holdings Limited Company for the project to run efficiently.
The sugar factory, which typifies the Greenbelt Initiative, is a joint venture between government and private investors.
The company will produce sugarcane on over 4000 hectares and manage the sugar factory with smallholder farmers producing sugarcane on 530 hectares and medium scale farmers producing sugarcane on 1500 hectares.
The project is being financed with $33.64 million (over K18 billion) out of the $76.5 million (around K42 billion) Line of Credit (LoC) from the government of India through its Export-Import (Exim) Bank in 2012.
It is situated less than five kilometres off the Salima-Nkhotakota Road to the right of Chikwawa Trading Centre, about 20 kilometres from Salima police checkpoint.
Besides the sugar processing plant, the LoC package includes $16.36 million (K9 billion) for GBI irrigation equipment and $26.5 million (K15 billion) for the construction of fuel storage facilities under the National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma).
The President also visited mangoes factory before the sugar factory under the same Greenbelt Initiative in Salima.