Invest Co-op - Malawi

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Invest Co-op Malawi

Project Details

  • Term: 4 Years
  • Budget: $2.8 million
  • Direct Beneficiaries: 50,260 individuals
  • Implementation Partner: CDF Canada, MUSSCO, FUM
  • Financial Partners: CDF Canada, Global Affairs Canada

Farmer members of Nyanja Co-operative in Malawi are negotiating better prices for their soya by putting into practice the training they’ve had through CDF Canada’s INVEST Co-op Malawi project. By pooling and sharing the marketing of their product, farmer members were able to negotiate a higher-than-market price with a new buyer. They used their profits to move into bulk purchasing of agro input supplies to complement the good agricultural practices they learned through the project. Their success is encouraging other co-operatives in the project to build up their capacity too.

Malawi's agricultural sector employs nearly 90% of the working-age population, with the majority engaging in small-scale agriculture. Many farmers suffer from low productivity as a result of a reliance on rain-fed irrigation, low quality inputs, insufficient agricultural extension services, limited access to markets, and inadequate financial services. Their situation is worsened by increasingly erratic weather conditions due to climate change.

Soya bean became a high paying cash crop in Malawi after tobacco lost its value in recent years. Yet, despite their best efforts, farmers are not getting adequate returns from their soya. They also incur losses by selling individually at low prices to vendors through middle men who cheat them by using improper weigh scales.

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"Through their co-operatives, farmers can pool their product to achieve economies of scale, improve their bargaining power, achieve fair pricing and eliminate their reliance on middlemen."

The Farmers Union of Malawi, aided by CDF Canada, are addressing these issues by building up the capacity of farmer co-operatives through a wide range of trainings to improve agricultural practices, governance, business planning and marketing. Through their co-operatives, farmers can pool their product to achieve economies of scale, improve their bargaining power, achieve fair pricing and eliminate their reliance on middlemen.

This four-year CDF Canada project focuses on increasing the production of dietary staples - groundnuts, maize and beans - and nutrient rich soybeans, which are used as a fortifier and have commercial value as livestock feed. Our project aims to:

- Introduce new agricultural techniques, promote conservation farming practices, and minimize loss in post-harvest handling.

- Network small-scale farmer clubs together to form producer co-ops to reach economic scale.

- Develop new marketing co-ops in three districts and train partner staff in co-op development.

- Link farmer savings groups to savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs) for expanded services, provide financial literacy training to group members, and modify the group cash-out cycle to coincide with farmer input requirements.

- Initiate a youth savings program, including sponsoring school based savings clubs, linking these to SACCOs, and providing financial literacy and entrepreneurship training to school age youth.

- Strengthen an SMS (short message service) platform for disseminating market information to co-ops and farmer members.

- Train government extension workers, co-operative leaders and farmers on the importance of women's roles in agriculture.

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