By Tawonga Nyirenda MAYUNI
Blantyre based Tithokoze Women Lime-makers Cooperative has expressed concern over the influx of Zambia’s Ndola lime into the country saying it is bringing unfair competition on the local lime market.
In an interview with Mining and Trade Review, the Chairperson of the Lirangwe based Cooperative Tifa Kamwendo said that the women have the capability to excel in their business but marketing challenges are limiting their ability.
“Lack of stable markets is a big challenge for Tithokoze. We have the capability of producing high quality lime but we hardly get contracts from both the public and private sector as most of them are used to Ndola lime,” she said
Kamwendo also said the country’s current economic problems are a bottleneck to their business since due to low demand with consumers facing economic hardships, hardware shops in Blantyre who buy their lime pay in installments.
She, therefore, called on the government to introduce deliberate measures to improve market conditions for local lime producers, which could help the country save foreign exchange used to import the product.
Kamwendo also asked the government to facilitate that the women miners acquire financing in form of loans from financial institutions to boost their capital and develop their business.
She said “Lack of capital is a major problem for us such that we do not employ people on contract basis, we only have part time workers. We also lack important equipment such as hammers, protective wear, and vehicles for transporting our products.”
“We should support each other as Malawians and not make Zambians rich by importing their lime, when quality lime is domestically produced.”
Tithokoze has the capacity to produce 12,500 kg of lime a day but it is currently producing 5000 kg a day because of lack of capital and stable markets.
The cooperative produces agricultural lime, granulated lime, lime putty and hydrated lime.
The cooperative, which was established in 1997, comprises 19 women and eight youths. It came to light in the 1990s when National Association of Business Women (NABW) with funding from the European Union constructed a factory for the women.
In 2009, the government bought them a K 11 million machine to start producing lime under the One Village Product programme.