CURRENT PROJECT: Building sustainable solutions to poverty in Malawi
In 2016 we started a three year project working in partnership with Malawi Fairtrade Network (MFTN) to reduce poverty levels among their member producers. The network’s income had been declining in recent years as, due to a decrease in produce sales, members have been unable to pay their membership fee impacting upon MFTN’s ability to provide adequate support to their members.
This project is supporting tea, macadamia nut and groundnut producers from five co-operatives across Malawi. Through a programme of business training, mentoring and workshops on good agricultural practices we are supporting producers to improve the quality of their crop, increase their sustainability and increase their sales.
As a result, each co-operative will be able to pay their membership fees to MFTN strengthening the network and increasing its sustainability to continue supporting the producers once this project ends.
“This training has helped us a lot. Previously we were just doing agriculture as just the culture of farming. But, with this training, we are doing agriculture as a business where by we do planting and monitor the plants and see if we have a profit. Otherwise we would just be doing the farming without knowing if we are making any business and any profit.
So since that time we have been making profits. This training has lifted us a lot because we are doing our farming now as a business”. Samuel Himacul, macadamia nut farmer
Mary Piyo, tea farmer
Thuchira Tea Association are one of five co-operatives who have received training through this project. Thuchira provides a livelihood for 8,325 tea farmers (60% female). The training they received in Good Agricultural Practices including harvesting techniques and soil management enabled farmers to increase their yield, improve the quality of their product and increase their income. Further training in Business Planning has increased the sustainability of the cooperative ensuring they can pay their farmers on time and support the business to grow.
“I was losing money because more often than not my tea leaves were rejected by the buyer due to poor quality. After taking part in the training, I learnt the best harvesting techniques and since then my tea has never been rejected. Now my income from tea has increased from MK 3,000 (£3.35) per month to MK 15,000 (£16.75) per month”
COMPLETE PROJECT: Access to Finance in Malawi
In 2015 we developed a compact programme of access to finance training specifically for tea and sugar farmers in Malawi. Eight co-operatives were identified as needing support, and thanks to the Malawi Fairtrade Network, we were able to help.
In 2016, we evaluated the impact of the project to see if our aims had been met. This included ensuring farmers were managing their financial record-keeping at the level required to reach Fairtrade certification. We also wanted to help the businesses start conversations with potential social lenders so they could begin to understand their requirements. Finally, we believe that by improving their financial management techniques, we could help the farmers achieve higher productivity levels, and subsequently increase their income
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“Financial statements are now prepared on a monthly basis. This has led to farmers knowing the financial standing of the organisation. If our association is successful, it translates to sustainability, our children will be able to benefit from the co-op too.”
Eastern Outgrowers Trust