Karonga’s rice milling plant to be operational in two weeks

Karonga's rice milling plant to be operational in two weeks

Infrastructure Development Manager (IDM) for the Greenbelt Authority (GBA) Synoden Kautsi has disclosed that the Rice Milling and Processing Plant at Nthola Ilola Irrigation Scheme will be operational in two weeks time.

Speaking in an interview, Kautsi said construction works at the milling plant have been completed and ESCOM gave them a list of required materials for them to connect electricity and GBA has already engaged an electrical consultant.

Kautsi said: “The facility is now at 99% and we are just waiting for electricity connection. The facility will also have its own transformer and once these are brought in by Escom, the Rice Milling and Processing Plant will be operational within two weeks.”

“We have installed a rice milling machine, a grader, destoner, polisher and a packaging machine. These will be used to mill the rice then sort it after that it will be polished and then packaging will also be done in the same plant,”he added.

He further explained that once fully operational, the plant will be able to mill 50 tonnes of rice per day.

Kautsi also attributed logistical mishaps in shipping the equipment from China as having caused delays in the project’s completion.

“Construction of the K772, 857, 933.13 project began in May 2022, and once operational, it is expected to employ over 100 workers. 2 500 anchor and out-grower farmers are also expected to benefit from the project,” said Kautsi.

In a seperate interview, Sub Traditional Authority Mwangolera said people in the area have welcomed the project and they are happy with the plant because it will improve their livelihoods.

“We are glad that this is the first project of its kind in the northern region. People from my area will be employed in the factory, farmers around Nthola Ilola Irrigation Scheme will have a place to process their rice and even forex will be earned for the nation through rice sales abroad,” Mwangolera said.

“However, we would like to urge government to speed up the works being done on the Nthola Ilola irrigation Scheme for us to start using it and harvest twice in a year to keep the plant working at its full capacity,” added the Chief.

President for Nthola Ilola Water Users Association (WUA) Oswald Gondwe said for a long time they have been processing their rice manually and the coming of the milling plant is a relief.

In his remarks, acting Director of Public Works for Karonga District Council Yamikani Bokosi bemoaned lack of funds saying that’s what is causing delays in completing the construction of Nthola Ilola Irrigation Scheme.

Reported by George Mponda