Enhancing Market Access by Smallholders Producers in Malawi

FUM, with financial support from OXFAM is implementing a project known as Enhancing Market Access by Smallholder Producers in Malawi. This project came after realizing challenges that smallholder producers face in Malawi. Some of the objects of the projects are as follows;

  • To enhance women farmer organizational development for collective action to influence policy and engage with markets.
  • To improve skills and capacity of women farmers in sustainable crop production practices, postharvest handling and marketing.
  • To improve linkage of women farmer organizations to market information and financial services.
  • To set up functional cooperatives that can produce quality commodities that can attract good market.

The project is being implemented in four districts namely Zomba, Dowa, Rumphi and Nkhatabay. In Zomba the FOs are those that are into Rice, Soya milk and Peanut butter production and processing of cassava floor, Rumphi targeted cooperatives are those that produces grains and legumes, in Nkhatabay targeted cooperatives are those that produce rice and in Dowa the cooperatives are those that produce Soya and groundnuts.

Following are some of the activities that have been carried out so far;

  1. Linking FOs to financial institutions
  2. Interface meetings with newly elected councillors
  3. Facilitation of 4 FOs annual general meetings
  4. Facilitation of District Farmers Unions (DFUs) committee and FOs in Rumphi
  5. Facilitated meeting between women FOs and OVOP
  6. Facilitated meeting between CCJP Rumphi chapter and Rumphi district council on local market.

Some of the Accomplished Activities

Linking farmers to financial institutions

After paying 100% loans that were obtained from Opportunity International Banking of Malawi (OIBM), 12 FOs were linked once more to banks where they obtained loans. Several meetings were held before the loans were disbursed. The financial institutions were therefore convinced that the FOs have the capacity to make business and be able to repay the loans.

Evidently, most farmers have seen the benefits of selling their produce collectively after mobilizing their commodities. Many have joined the existing groups while others are forming new ones.

Facilitate registration of FO’s with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)

Seven (7) cooperatives have been developed under the facilitation of FUM through this project. Ministry of Industry and Trade conducted trainings and all the seven FO’s have now been registered with the MOIT and have a constitution and certificate. Of the seven, six are from Rumphi while one is from Dowa. They are Jandalala, Kaulimi, Mtende, Chimwemwe, Mhuju, Livingistonia Piggery in Rumphi and Mayankho a Alimi in Dowa

Training of Women farmer representatives in agribusiness planning

Business plan development trainings were conducted in all 6 cooperatives in Rumphi. The training covered record keeping, how to conduct market surveys, and gross margin analysis. A total of 18 (6men, 12 women) representative executive committee members from the six cooperatives attended the trainings and they rolled out the training to their fellow.

Linkage to agencies

Five FO’s namely Mtende, Jandalala, Mhuju, Chimwemwe and Kaulimi have been linked to OVOP (One Village One Product) and FIDP to support them with value adaptation machines and warehouses respectively. With OVOP, the FO’s have received initial trainings and they are going through an appraisal process to assess their readiness for such support while with FIDP, has shown willingness to support them with construction of warehouses. The FO’s however had to contribute 25% in kind i.e. raw materials. Mtende Cooperative has been able to hire a tractor from the District Agriculture Office to cultivate the members’ fields. Priority on this had been given to women considering the numerous challenges they face with household activities.