Malawi: Greenbelt Authority Partners Zimbabwean Firm for Investment in Commercial Irrigation in Malawi

20 October 2021

Greenbelt Authority (GBA) and Maka Resources from Zimbabwe have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), effectively enabling the two companies to start investing in large-scale commercial irrigation in Malawi.

The pact is expected to translate into "huge export produce that will help many countries in Africa."

The MoU signing took place in Lilongwe on Tuesday, exciting Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe and many other public and private sector officials and dignitaries who attended the ceremony.

GBA is a Government of Malawi corporation established with the mandate to champion large-scale commercial irrigation through efficient use of land and water resources in order to accelerate socio-economic transformation of the country.

On the other hand, Maka Resources is Zimbabwe's leading irrigation and water engineering company, which, among other things, manufactures centre pivots irrigation and solar-powered systems locally and supplies grain drying technology and drip irrigation system.

According to the MoU, the two firms will be jointly looking at scheme preparation, project implementation and establishment of agro-processing facilities.

However, each has a specific obligation in an MoU whose fruits "must begin to show in twelve months' time".

GBA will provide land, free of any disturbances and facilitate some of the processes in order to get exemptions for importation of some of the critical agriculture equipment.

On the other hand, Maka is required to source finances and other resources for establishment of irrigation investments and projects.

Speaking during the MoU signing, GBA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Amon Mluwira, described the partnership as a milestone as far as commercial irrigation is concerned in Malawi.

"The MoU will facilitate the creation of a special purpose vehicle, leading to agreeing to go together to work into issues of investing in commercial irrigation in the country. GBA has a lot of land suitable for irrigation, but resources have been a major constraint on our part. The resources we will get through this partnership, will help in achieving the goals of GBA," said Mluwira.

He praised Maka Resources, saying "the firm is a reliable partner which has all it takes to implement irrigation projects in Malawi".

Maka Resources Chief Executive Officer, Innocent Sibanda, said the company was attracted to Malawi because of the potential of the agriculture sector in the country.

"There is so much we can do in agriculture in Malawi. We can exploit it together and feed our own people. With climate change, there is no agriculture without irrigation. If there is no climate proof for agriculture, it is a waste of resources through droughts, irregular rain and other impacts of climate change. There can be no harvest," said Sibanda.

Sibanda disclosed that Maka's many areas of interest and focus in Malawi will include wheat production, after noting that 98 percent of the wheat consumed in the country is imported.

He also said they are looking at expanding Soya production, a crop, he noted, is already doing well in the country.

In his remarks, Minister Lowe, who was the guest of honour, called for implementation of the MoU between the two firms, saying Malawi can learn a lot from Maka Resources considering that the company comes from a country which is advanced in irrigation.

"We can no longer be singing about these MoUs. Implementation is the key. My ministry will be following up on this MoU because irrigation is indeed the way to go. Irrigation is the policy of the government. It is the direction the country is taking," Lowe said.

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