Linga fruit wines are produced from eight types of fruits locally grown by smallholder farmers in Malawi. The fruit wine brand started in 2006, has grown popular at home over the years and has now found its market in the United Kingdom with prospects the demand could grow to other countries in the future.
LILONGWE, MALAWI (REUTERS) – When Timothy Ngwira started building his wine business in 2006, a long awaited dream was finally starting to take shape.
Ngwira who only processed wine as a hobby at first, says he was determined to go into commercial production one day.
Today Ngwira is a managing partner at Linga fruit wines, a family business based in Malawi’s capital, Lilongowe.
“This is our main cellar where we put wine that is to be stored for a longer time. Usually from one year up to five years,” said Ngwira.
Linga fruit wines produces a variety made from locally sourced fruits.
Ngwira – a biochemist by profession, was introduced to wine making in the 70s by a missionary.
He says he made wines on a small scale over the years that were well received by colleagues and friends; after conducting thorough research, he decided to start commercial production 11 years ago.
“Fruit wine has now been accepted by many countries in the world. You hear of fruit wines in Australia, you hear of fruit wines in Canada and I think they have started some fruit wines in USA. So, fruit wines have come to stay and people do like it because they say it is like more of a healthy food, a healthy drink,” said Ngwira.
Linga now produces wine from eight fruits grown in the country. The wines range from rosellas to fruity white wines.
The wines are naturally fermented for years to achieve a unique smooth taste.
The company’s products are sold in stores across the country. A 750 ml bottle of wine goes for about 7 US dollars.
Linga is planning to export to the UK and also working on plans to enter the US and Australian markets.
Ngwira says with more exports, processors like him will be able to help the country improve the value of the Kwacha.
Malawi’s currency came under pressures from falling export revenue from the country’s main crop, tobacco among other market factors last year.
Since 2012, the kwacha has lost around three quarters of its value, falling to 720 against the dollar from around 160.
“We believe that with the introduction of the UK market plus other markets, we hope, the forex can also come in so that Malawi has enough forex to meet its needs,” said Ngwira.
Farmers who’ve partnered with Linga like Thereza Kamphulusa now also have more market for their produce. The farmer supplies Linga with fresh guavas from her orchard.
“I am able to buy most of the things that I couldn’t afford before. My life has changed. These fruits may look like ordinary fruits but they are very profitable,” said Kamphulusa.
With the proceeds made from selling guavas to the winery, Kamphulusa has been able to grow her herd of goats and has also bought some pigs.