Standard Bank Plc has invested K23.5 million in two greenhouses and a training centre at Inosselia’s GGL farm near Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe.
The facilities will be used to train smallholder vegetable farmers from surrounding districts and are part of a strategic relationship between Standard Bank Plc, agriculture investment group Inosselia and the Green Belt Authority (GBA).
“At Standard Bank we are taking a deliberate position to forge partnerships in the agriculture sector aiming to contribute towards food security, income generation and enterprise growth as since agriculture remains the main pillar of our economy,” said Margareth Chirwa, the bank’s Board Director.
In the wake of climate change which has challenged traditional methods of agriculture, Standard Bank’s focus is on promoting farmer’s adaptation to smart agriculture and create sustainability of the sector.
“We believe that the green house farming will help smallholder farmers expand their crop variety within a small area, extend their growing season as they will not be wholly reliant on rain fed agriculture. With a greenhouse, many different techniques can be used to keep the temperatures stable, causing less stress to the plants and promoting strong growth much earlier in the year. And minimize external threats to their crops,” she said.
Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe said horticulture is an important source of income for smallholder farmers and commended Standard Bank for recently repositioning to support the agriculture sector.
“Banks have been passive on supporting farmers with finance, but what is happening at Standard Bank is a radical shift and very inspiring. The agriculture sector is benefiting a lot from the bank’s passion through implementation of initiatives that aimed at propelling Malawi’s development,” he said.
Inosselia Malawi Country Director Michael Gorelik applauded Standard Bank’s unique Corporate Social Responsibility approach which he said would benefit smallholder farmers through skills transfer in horticulture.
“We were lucky to partner with Standard Bank. Their CSR vision and social commitments coincides and matches with Inosselia’s and that of the Ministry of Agriculture. It is a match made in Lumbadzi,” said Gorelik.
Under a partnership with the Greenbelt Authority, Inosselia is running a high-tech 16-hectare greenhouse field with a weekly output of 50 tons of vegetables supplied to major retailers in Malawi.
The project has helped facilitate import substitution for vegetables in major retail shops such as Shoprite, Food Lovers and Sana with plans to challenge the export markets in SADC.