MALAWI – Malawi is set to develop the largest greenhouse vegetable farm in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe.

The project is a joint venture between the government agency, Green Belt Authority and global investment company, Inosselia Agro.

The vegetable farm will comprise of 16 green houses, each covering 1 hectare, set up on a 30 hectares of land that has been leased out on long-term by Airport Development Limited (ADL).

It will provide a wide range of high quality vegetables to Malawi and will reduce the country’s heavy reliance on imported horticultural produce from South Africa.

The greenhouse farm will utilize state of the art technology and advanced farm management systems including having deep boreholes that will pump out underground water which will be used to irrigate the crops.

So far, ten boreholes have been sunk, first four greenhouses are being built and all earthworks have been done.

Country Director for Inosselia Agro, Michael Gorelik, expressed satisfaction with the progress made, saying the project will have significant positives for Malawi and her economy.

“The impact will be huge. We intend to substitute imports from South Africa. Everything that comes from South Africa regarding fresh produce, we will be able to produce here at a better quality, at a better quantity and at a much better consistency,” said Gorelik.

He then disclosed that the first planting of the horticultural crops will be done in June and that the first picking and harvesting of the crops–including tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, lettuce and others–would be done around August and be delivered to retailers who will have placed their orders.

Green Belt Authority Chief Executive Officer, Dr Henrie Njoloma, concurred with Gorelik, stressing that the greenhouse farm will revolutionalize the horticulture sector in Malawi.

“This is a once off project that brings everybody to a certain international platform of standards which is a very huge change for Malawi. This is indeed the biggest project in SADC. Even in South Africa, there are never companies who run greenhouses of such magnitude,” he said.

According to Airport Development Limited Chief Executive Officer, Rodah Gadama Misomali, ADL’s agreement with Green Belt Authority and Inosselia Agro is run under the build, operate and transfer arrangement.

This means that once the two agencies recover their investments, the greenhouse farm infrastructure will be handed over to ADL and become part of the company’s assets.

The project will also include the construction of a packing house, cold storage, pumping house, nursery and classroom for training that are set to be completed by the end of this year.