Greetings everyone! My name is Nellie Chipole and I’m Empower Malawi’s cooperative specialist 🙂
Today I’d like to share some information about our efforts to support three agricultural cooperatives in Lilongwe. Our latest project in Lilongwe is focused on Demera (Demera Paprika Cooperative) and Mngwangwa (Milindi and Tithetse Umphawi Cooperatives) Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) in Lilongwe. Empower Malawi is promoting cooperative models as a means to to be self reliant, financially stable and practice democratic leadership. For more information on why we promote cooperatives, read more here. Empower Malawi is currently working with the above mentioned agricultural cooperatives to ensure that they receive the necessary training and support to scale their operations. Typically, these collectives receive one-off training and lack the funds and support to progress. With our five year approach, we are committed to ensuring that these community organisations get all the support they need to be more sustainable in the long run. One of the major advantages of agricultural cooperatives is that they enable members to fetch better market prices for their produce due to stronger collective bargaining power. This is superior to smallholder farmers working in isolation. Cooperatives are also more likely to be able to invest in infrastructure such as warehouses for effective storage and machinery for further value addition.
Thus far, Empower Malawi has conducted vision workshops whereby action plans for the five years coming were developed together by the cooperatives themselves. This was then followed by week long training workshops with officials from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism , so that these cooperatives receive a thorough overview of how cooperatives work and are formally registered with the Malawian Government.
Figure 1: Demera Paprika Cooperative during action plan presentation and adoption
Figure 2: Tithetse Umphawi and Milindi Cooperatives during cooperative refresher course with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism group photo
This training is very important as it enables these cooperatives to learn how they can manage their operations, how they can raise funds through shares and disburse loans to members, and address issues of governance within their cooperative. Learning about these fundamental aspects of cooperatives is helping members better understand how members can collectively command higher prices for their produce.
Figure 3: Demera Paprika Cooperative during cooperative training session with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism
Figure 4: Milindi and Tithetse Umphawi cooperatives during action plan presentation and adoption
Over the coming months we will be conducting more trainings with these three cooperatives towards improving the following aspects of their operations:
1. Farming practices to increase production
2.Storage and management of yields
3. Market linkage so that these cooperatives can access a range of new markets
4. Member mobilisation to increase the number of farmers that are part of these cooperatives.
We are very excited about the road ahead! These cooperatives are now on their way towards improving their operations and in the process, the lives of its member households through increased income. This is what your donations are making possible. I look forward to sharing progress soon 🙂