- Demera Cooperative was an informal collective of 100+ rural farmers in Malawi’s Lilongwe District until 2019. They grow paprika, corn, peanuts, and soybeans.
- We have provided them with ongoing training on how to establish and scale an agricultural cooperative. As of 2020, they are a registered cooperative and they now have 364 members.
- In mid-2020, Demera Cooperative was granted an approx. AUD 4,000 interest-free loan to finance their expansion. This was to purchase seeds and equipment to commit more land to grow for the cooperative.
- As of March 2021, Demera Cooperative has repaid 76% of the loan and is on track for full repayment by June 2021 as per the loan agreement.
The growth of the cooperative has been a boon to members as it has significantly improved the prices they fetch for their produce, the volumes they sell, and reduce the cost of transportation when compared to selling as individuals. Here are two stories that demonstrate the varied impacts of being members of Demera Cooperative.
” My name is Margret Kdadzamila and I am married with 4 children. I am a member of Demera Cooperative. At first, I was doing things on my own and it was difficult for me but since I joined the cooperative, I have seen a big change in income. I have been able to participate and sell our products as a group which helps us to have one agreed price for our produce and sell together for a good profit. The cooperative also helps to organise all the produce together, which eases the cost of transportation.
Our cooperative grows paprika, maize, and soybeans. Recently, I grew 2 acres of paprika and sold it through the cooperative. With the profits I’ve earned, I managed to order iron sheets which I hope to use to improve the roof of my thatched house soon. I am also growing 1 hectare of soybeans that I am expecting to harvest by May.
I think is very important to participate in a cooperative as my family has benefited a lot. It is just that in 2020 COVID-19 hit our communities really hard, it affected our meetings and operations as a co-op. But I still have hope that things will be fine.”
My name is Magombo Chawanga and I am married with 7 children. I am a member of Demera Cooperative. Previously, I was growing different crops at a small scale but since I joined the cooperative, I started growing more to the extent that I grew 3 acres of peanuts, 2 acres of maize, and sold them through the cooperative. The good prices negotiated by the cooperative gave me profits that I was able to use to build a 3-bedroom house with iron sheets!
I have participated in several training programs through the cooperative. This has been good for me as they tackled financial matters that I was not very knowledgeable of. I am now able to manage a budget to see how much to spend on farm inputs, on my family, and much more. It has been a wonderful journey working with the cooperative as I have been very much encouraged to work as a group. I am able to clearly differentiate between selling farm products on my own and selling through the cooperative as the profit is high!