Goliati Farmers Wait 15 Years for a Factory

Tomato and fruit farmers around Goliati in Thyolo will wait a little longer to start maximizing their benefits as Chisoka cooperative is yet to contribute business capital to run a new multi-million Kwacha processing machine installed around 2009.

Government through One Village, One Product (OVOP) assisted the cooperative with the equipment to be processing about 20 tons of tomato and fruit juices a day.

However, speaking on Wednesday, the cooperative chairperson, Maxwell Chipaso, said the state of-the-art factory has been lying idle for years as they could not afford to contribute shares, currently pegged at about K20 million.

Chipaso said the machines are still intact, only that thieves stole a water pump, a borehole while Cyclone Freddy damaged the water tank.

He said currently the cooperative members are working to raise the shares to kick-start the business.

"Let me tell you that we have a very powerful equipment. It is approximately able to process 20 tons of tomato or fruits in a night. The problem with us is that we are struggling to raise the shares for our business," he said.

However, Sub-Traditional Authority Kamoto of the area is concerned that farmers continue losing tomatoes to unscrupulous vendors due to the non-operational of the value addition equipment.

"If the factory was operational, our lives would have changed for the better. We would have been selling the tomatoes like the way we do with milk to the dairy. But now, we are faced with poor markets though tomato inputs are very expensive," he lamented.

Meanwhile, Thyolo district council trade officer, Gloria Chisanga said the cooperative needs to raise the shares for the business.

Chisanga said Zakudimba cooperative in Bvumbwe also benefitted from the machine, but they are yet to start the processing despite having the capital.

Goliati is one of the tomato producing areas in the southern region that feeds Limbe and Blantyre.

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