By Steve Chirombo:
Communities under Thabwa Value Addition Centre (VAC) in Chikwawa District on Wednesday officially launched a maize mill which they say will help them realise more revenue for the operation of the centre.
Chairperson for the centre, Henderson Makuluni who led the commissioning of the maize mill, said for years now, they have been struggling to raise enough capital to operate their centre fully, hence acquisition of the maize mill so they can process maize products and sell them.
“Through the maize mill, we want to produce flour that would be packaged and sold to other people within and outside Chikwawa.
“Not only that, other community members will be coming here for milling,” said Makuluni.
Since 2019, a local organisation dubbed Challenges Malawi, has been assisting Thabwa VAC with soft loans under Creating Robust Opportunity for Crop Production and Sale (CROPS) Project.
In 2019, the organisation provided K10 million soft loan to the centre earmarked to be paid back within a year with some grace period.
This year, Challenges Malawi has also handed over a K10 million worth of cheque to the centre to help improve business environment at the centre in addition to providing its members with skills in leadership, business, financial literacy as well as good governance.
“So, when we received this second cheque, we all resorted to buying a maize mill.
“This was after thorough consultations and research. We realised that most communities go to Thabwa for milling, which is a bit far, but now, we have reduced the distance and they will be able to get us here.
“In the process, we will be able to collect money that will go towards settling the loan with Challenges Malawi and other operations,” Makuluni stated.
Commenting on the development, Kalima Chikafa who represented Director of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources commended the members for acquiring the maize mill.
“Let’s do more of planning and paper work. Let’s have data of whatever we are doing because that helps us know where we have gaps and where we are making progress,” he said.
Chikafa further called on the community members to join hands so that they are certified for them to easily penetrate markets.
“Let’s ensure we do all we can to sustain our business and interventions,” he said.
Thabwa VAC is managed by farmers from two Extension Planning Areas of Livunzu under Traditional Authority Makhuwira and Mitole in Chief Mulilima who formed two cooperatives called Livunzu and Dumwalili.