Nchalo Sugar Estate is the oldest Sugar Estate in Malawi. The Estate is a product of collaborative Sugar Cane growing research in lower shire by the then Nyasaland Government and Booker Brothers and McConnell and Co. Ltd in 1949. The Alumenda Scheme became the first pilot scheme.
In 1963, Dr McMartin, a renowned sugar cane researcher, was engaged by Lonrho Ltd to do a thorough research of the topography, drainage, climate, natural vegetation, soils, and water supplies in the Nchalo area. He recommended Nchalo as a favourable area for sustained sugar cane production.
SUCOMA was formed in mid-1965 as a Lonrho Subsidiary to operate the Nchalo Estate. In 1997 Illovo acquired Lonrho Sugar Corporation Limited which owned SUCOMA hence the change of name to Illovo Sugar Malawi. Annually, Nchalo Estate cultivates more than 1 million tonnes of sugarcane and produces more than 150 000 tonnes of sugar. Nchalo Estate produces sugar for the domestic market as well as a wide range of specialty sugar for the export market. The types of sugar produced include; Light Demerara, Dark Demerara, Dry Demerara, Fortified Raw Sugar, Standard Raw Sugar, Turbinado, Fine Grain Raw Sugar and Malawi Golden Raw Sugar. At its peak the Estate employs more than 10,000 permanent and non-permanent employees. The Nchalo Sugar Estate generates its own electricity using bagasse, a renewable resource. The electricity is used to power milling and packaging processes, power for irrigation, and for use within residential villages. The Estate plans to increase its power generating capacity so that it is able to supply to the National electricity grid. Nchalo Estate is also committed to supporting AB sugar water ambitions to reduce supply chain water use by 30%.