Malawi Mangoes was founded in 2009 from the realisation that Malawi has some of the best conditions in the world for growing tropical fruit together with resourceful, hard-working people looking for the opportunity to be self-sufficient, but who haven’t had the means to tap into export markets. What was needed was a little joined up thinking in:
Harnessing the existing knowledge of Malawians to grow fruit fit for the export market
Gaining investment to set up and run a World Class processing facility
Using our logistics know how to export the finished product safely to our customers
And most importantly, investing back into the fruit and local community
Our first farm is located at Matumba in Salima District, close to Lake Malawi. Prior to Malawi Mangoes’ acquisition of the land it was under-utilised grassland giving minimal benefit to surrounding villages. From the outset our approach has been to involve village elders and local people in setting up and running the farm. All of our farm workers come from the immediate surrounding communities. Furthermore, the Rainforest Alliance has been involved from day one in advising us how best to use the land with minimal impact on the flora, fauna and people already there. Examples of conscious action taken was the setting aside of 30% of land for animal corridors, protecting water courses, leaving a set number of existing trees per hectare and creating a plan for inter-cropping and crop rotation.
At Matumba farm, we grow mango and banana as well as conducting trials on a number of other crops. Given the high productivity at the farm, we can ensure strong fruit availability to feed our processing facility located just a few kilometers away in Salima town.
The interest being shown in purchasing our fruit purees has been so high that we have already acquired the land for our next farm (three times the size of Matumba) at the nearby village of Dzuwa, which means ‘sunshine’ in the local language. This will be used to grow banana, mango and pineapple. Farming operations are due to commence in December 2013.
Community Outreach Program
We have set up a community outreach programme with over 5,000 smallholders in a 30 kilometer radius around our processing facility. All smallholders join our programme entirely of their own will, are registered formally with us and are given a full briefing of how the programme works. They are fully supported by our fifteen out-reach workers who live full time in the villages of the surrounding districts. Each smallholder is given the choice of how they want to participate from top-working a few of their existing trees to planting seedlings. Extreme care is taken to ensure that their existing crops are not impacted negatively. Saplings are typically planted on field perimeters or land with no existing utilisation.