By Emmanuel Moyo, MANA
The Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) has unveiled plans to assist producers of edible cooking oil and soap at Iponga in Karonga to mechanize their production processes.
This was disclosed on August 4, 2021 during a Karonga District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting with a call for moral support from the community members for the success of the innovation.
The innovation aims at improving quality and quantity of the products so that they compete with similar products on the local market.
The University’s Director of Research, Postgraduate Studies and Outreach, Dr Alfred Maluwa said the oil currently being produced manually at Iponga was too crude and needed machinery to refine it further.
“The community members extract oil from palm fruits but its end product is too crude,” he said. “They face challenges in cracking the palm fruits to get the beans for the standardised oil production.”
Maluwa said the initiative, among others, aims at mechanizing the whole production process of the edible oil, whose by-product is soap.
He was optimistic that the producers would sustain the innovation as the community has already shown passion for oil production.
“They are already doing it locally, so this will enhance their passion and the machines which we are talking about are easy to use and maintain,” he said.
Chairperson for Mwakaboko Area Development Committee, Edward Chitete, expressed excitement with the development, saying it would go a long way in simplifying the oil and soap production, thereby improving quality of the products.
“We are happy and we have welcomed the development because the manual process we use is tiresome and the oil was of poor quality,” he said.
The nuts that the Iponga community producers were cracking from the palm fruits were being sold at a cheaper price in Tanzania.