Malawi: Inosselia-Greenbelt Kia Greenhouse Farm exports cherry tomatoes to DR Congo

Nyasa Times | 5 May 2022

Malawi: Inosselia-Greenbelt Kia Greenhouse Farm exports cherry tomatoes to DR Congo
Inosselia Agro and Greenbelt Authority (GBA) greenhouse-based vegetable farm, which is near Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe, last week exported its first consignment of 300 kilograms (kgs) of fresh cherry tomatoes to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The farm--one of the biggest producers of high quality tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelons, cucumbers, lettuce and cauliflower in Southern Africa --was established to secure exports and substitute the importation of horticultural produce from South Africa, which made Malawi lose a lot of forex.
This first successful commercial export has effectively sealed a sustainable market in DRC for the proprietors of the farm, who will continue exporting the cherry tomatoes to that market every week, with the amount of the produce also increasing every week.
It also puts the farm owners on a sure path to securing exports of the other fresh produce on the farm.
Inosselia Agro the Country Director, Michael Gorelik, speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, expressed satisfaction that the farm has successfully achieved import substitution as the farm is now the main supplier of fresh vegetable produce to all major supermarkets and upmarket off-takers in Malawi, including Shoprite, Chipiku, Food Lovers, Sana and many others.
Gorelik said, in line with the initial business concept, the first phase was import substitution, which has now been successfully realized.
"The second phase is export, which we have just now commenced with cherry tomatoes to DRC. This is important, for it will bring more foreign currency into Malawi. Hand in hand with this, we have additional interests from other supermarket chains in other countries. They want export of our high quality and highly consistent fresh produce. So, as production goes up, imports will further reduce, hence more savings in foreign currency for Malawi," said Gorelik.
He added that Inosselia and GBA seek to sustain these exports by, among other things, ensuring high quality and consistency of the produce from the farm.
"If we promise to deliver the produce, we have to deliver, surely. We also have to be best in quality and competitive on pricing in view of the competition from other countries, who are also producing horticultural produce," he said.
Moving forward, Gorelik described Malawi as a "very good investment opportunity" for the Inosselia Group, which has several other ongoing investment interests in the country. According to him, these projects shall attract additional foreign currency, generate employment and expand on capacity building at all levels.
He further said the greenhouse farm near KIA, comprising 16 big greenhouses standing on 30 hectares of land, is now also initiating an extensive training and knowledge transfer (at the on-farm training facilities) to neighboring communities.
Gorelik said this is part of the strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, which are implemented in a joint CSR partnership with Standard Bank.
Inosselia Commercial, a global investment company, partnered with the government of Malawi through GBA in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, which has resulted in this joint venture agreement that is financing and developing one of the biggest greenhouse vegetable farms in Southern Africa, employing about 170 people-- practically all being Malawians residing around the airport and Lumbadzi area.


The Nation | 20 December 2019

The Malawi Government, through the Green Belt Authority (GBA), has invested $8 million (about K6 billion) in Intensive Vegetable Farming Project in Lumbadzi, Lilongwe to take advantage of the local and export market.
GBA chief executive officer Henri Njoloma said in an interview on Tuesday in Blantyre that the vegetable project or greenhouse project, is a joint venture (JV) partnership with an Israeli-based Inosselia Commercial Limited, a subsidiary of Inosselia Investment Group, which is a global, progressive conglomerate of companies with a cross sector industry portfolio.
In the JV, the Israeli firm has 51 percent stake with the remaining 49 percent held by the Malawi Government
Njoloma said government has already secured 28 hactares where they will grow all types of vegetables in a project that is expected to create 500 jobs, with the first consignment to go on the market in April this year.
The project will take advantage of the 10 percent surcharge announced by Mwanamvekha in the 2019/20 National Budget on some imported goods that have local substitutes such as vegetables, fruits and sugar, among others.
Said Njoloma: “We have already secured deals because as you build greenhouses, you build one and you start planting right away. So, we will have 17 green houses.
“We have already secured markets. We will be selling locally in some upmarket super markets such as Shoprite and Chipiku. This is a demand-driven project.”
He said outside the country, they have also secured a market in South Africa, where they will be selling to Shoprite South Africa through its subsidiary in Mozambique.
The project, which is located close to Kamuzu International Airport, wants to encourage local production of vegetables to save foreign exchange.
Over the years, the country’s supermarkets have been flooded with imported fruits and vegetables, raising questions as to whether Malawian farmers have no capacity to supply the local market.
Njoloma said the close promixity to the airport is meant to target the Dubai market in the United Arab Emirates.
“We also want to take advantage of the flight from Emirates, which comes every Friday to deliver cargo and it goes back empty. We think we can be exporting vegetables to that market,” he said.
GBA has also secured land in Lunzu, Kammwamba, Neno and Chileka, close to Nkula for the same project.
In the 2019/20 National Budget, government allocated K800 million to GBA, which is 88 percent below the K7 billion the authority proposed.
Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development vice-chairperson Ulemu Chilapondwa is quoted as having said the money is not enough to enable the authority fulfill its engagement in the years.
GBA has been calling for public private partnerships.
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