Over 3500 small holder farmers in Mchinji have benefited from the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) project on promotion of smallholder farmer linkages to agro-processors.
The beneficiaries to the project situated in Mchinji at Kawerewere Farm, which started three years ago have so far produced 462.83MT of oil seeds of which 342.49MT were marketed through a community led market centre.
Speaking in an interview recently, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Nasfam, Dybon Chibonga said : “The farm model allows farmers to really work together. They can enjoy many of the benefits of commercial farming techniques, but still as smallholders.
“They can effectively have access to tractors for ripping their land, access to inputs because recovery is ensured, access to extension services because rather than a field officer needing a motorbike to visit remote locations, a qualified individual can simply review all the fields quickly even from abicycle. Farmers can engage in things like seed production and access to better markets, which is not easily possible in normal smallholder settings,” hesaid.
Chibonga further said the overall objectives of the project are to support implementation of the Malawi National Export Strategy to increase competitiveness of the Malawian value-added products especially oil seed products for exports through agro-processing special economic zones to the Nacala corridor and SADC/COMESA markets as well as to strengthen marketing linkages of oil-seeds smallholder farmers to anchor farmers and agro-processors.
Farm Manager for the Farm, Cosmos Kafwafwa said the project has two kinds of beneficiaries; the first ones grow legumes on the farm within Kawerewere Farm, while the rest grow these crops in their fields back in the village.
“We looked at several factors in selecting the beneficiaries. These then grow legumes on the 180 hectares piece of land that we have and they get certain privileges including getting their land cleared by tractors as well as free extension services.
“Since we loan them inputs, we are able to deduct these as they are selling their harvests. The outgrowers get inputs loan, when in growers return their loans, its like a cycle which benefits the smallholder farmers,” he said.
The project is funded by Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) which is a multi-donor programme, supporting Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to be more active players in the global trading system by helping them tackle supply-side constraints to trade.
According to the project report, farmers earned an average price of K577/kg for ground nuts and K405/kg for soya beans compared to other farmers that sold to parallel markets where the average prices were US$K285/kg and K300/KG for groundnuts and soya beans respectively.