Two Southern Region cooperatives, Shire Highlands Milk Producers (SHMPA) and Minyali Cotton Farmers, were on Thursday presented with a truck each under government-funded Agriculture Commercialisation (AGCOM) project.
The farmers asked for the funding to ease challenges they face in transporting their produce to various markets and also received more funds for the SHMPA farmers to buy extra food supplements for their dairy cows and for buying more cows to be supplied to new and existing members of the cooperative.
The presentation ceremony held at Mpemba Milk Bulking Centre along Chikwawa Road in Blantyre, was graced by Principal Secretary (PS) for Ministry of Agriculture & Water Irrigation, Erica Maganga who applauded the farmers for the tremendous work they are doing to turn their agricultural efforts into money-spinning businesses.
She also applauded the farmers, especially SHMPA, whose majority of members are women, saying this augurs well with government’s effort to uplift women’s economic livelihoods.
“I encourage all of you to continue being focused as you have demonstrated by earning the AGCOM’s confidence to release the grants in order for you to move forward in your agricultural agenda,” she said.
“I urge you to take very good care of these vehicles and to buy more dairy cows in order for you to continue being the largest producers of milk in the country.”
Established in 1985, SHMPA has over 9,000 dairy farmers of which over 5,000 are women and produce over 100,000 litres of milk a day.
SHMPA’s chairperson Zione Chakhaka testified that more and more farmers are joining their cooperative and they intend to buy another truck to be transporting cows they would be buying for the members.
“Dairy farmers are now being encouraged to produce more milk after seeing how others are benefiting as members of SHMPA.
“We are very grateful of AGCOM for having the trust in us that has led us being beneficiaries of the grants,” she said.
Maganga said the cooperatives earned the awards after meeting the requirement of contributing 30% of the total cost of their assets while AGCOM contributed 70%.
The contribution is two-fold, minimum of 10% in cash contribution and up to 20% in kind, depending on the choice of capital assets.
Each cooperative was required to operate having been duly registered and their leaders are trained on the set agricultural business module.
The project is funded through agriculture and trade ministries from the loan the government acquired from the World Bank.
The cooperatives that have benefitted from the project include ACADES Youth Producers Association; Likuni Milk Bulking Group (both from Lilongwe); Mchinji Dairy Cooperative and Mzuzu Livestock Cooperative from Mzimba North.
Others are Chisenga Honey Producers and Marketing Cooperative from Chitipa; Nsanama Women Cassava Producer and Marketing Cooperative from Machinga and Salima Dairy Farmers Cooperative.
National Project Coordinator for AGCOM, Teddie Nakhumwa said through the project, they are working with producer organizations that have formed productive alliances with off-takers through a commercial agreement.
“These are small-scale and emerging farmers that are working together in producer organization (POs) such as cooperatives and producing for the market.
“We are targeting all viable value chains in crops such as soya beans, groundnuts, rice, tea, coffee, including horticultural crops such as bananas, mangoes, chillies, tomatoes and vegetables, livestock and fisheries including aquaculture,” he said.
Nakhumwa AGCOM project is aimed at transforming small scale farmers to commercial ones has a developed productive alliance agreement form to ensure clarity on contract requirements and standards volumes and prices.
Currently, AGCOM has set up functioning independent evaluation committee to ensure independence and transparency of the evaluation and selection of proposals for the producer organisations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :