Three agricultural cooperatives outline their five year vision

Malawi

Three agricultural cooperatives outline their five year vision

April 26, 2018

This March, our Empower Malawi team launched its latest five-year partnership with two rural regions within the Lilongwe District (Demera and Ngwangwa extension planning areas). This five-year regional partnership will comprise of two initiatives that would operate in parallel:

  1. Assisting three agricultural cooperatives to scale their operations to improve local livelihoods.
  2. Assisting two primary schools to develop and implement permaculture plans that improve their sustainability. 

In this post, we’ll be focusing on the former. Our Malawi team recently facilitated vision workshops for community members in both Demera and Ngwangwa. A vision workshop is an extensive week-long process through which community members collaboratively develop a five-year vision for change. The first step involves two days of training community members (who are also cooperative members in this case) in core facilitation skills and practices. This is then followed by these trained community members facilitating three-day workshops that culminate in the development of a 5-year vision and action plan. Our projects draw upon the methodology and values of asset-based community development. In essence, this involves focusing on existing assets and capabilities as a means to achieve stated goals and outcomes.

We will be working with a total of three cooperatives in Lilongwe. Demera has one cooperative called Demera Paprika Cooperative whose members grow and sell paprika. Meanwhile, Ngwangwa has two cooperatives namely Tithetse Umphawi meaning ‘’let us alleviate poverty’’ and Milindi CooperativeTithetse Umphawi is a cassava growing cooperative with the purpose of producing high-quality cassava flour, and other cassava products while Milindi is a production focused cooperative mainly dealing with legumes i.e. ground beans, soybeans, groundnuts etc.  The Vision Workshops were conducted in order for the co-ops to come up with an action plan for the next 5 years (up to the end of 2023).

All 3 cooperatives were briefed that at the end of the workshop they would come up with the following:

  1. A 5-year Vision with clear objectives
  2. A 5-year Action Plan for achieving this vision
  3. Identify the partners to work with them to achieve their vision

Our team received a terrific response from both regions, with 115 participants in Ngwangwa (Milindi Cooperative and Tithetse Umphawi) and approximately 200 in Demera (Demera Cooperative)

Throughout the sessions, there was an emphasis on the voice of women in developing the vision and action plan for each of these three agricultural cooperatives.

Activities across the days were also focused on valuing local assets and capabilities as opposed to placing reliance on ‘outsiders’. A range of role plays and mapping exercises were used to communicate this. One example is a river crossing exercise, one that stresses on collaborative and community self-reliance.

 

After 8 full days, each of the three cooperatives both a vision and an action plan to work towards it! Below is a brief summary of the 5-year goals of each of the three cooperatives.  They are organised across four broad themes that were identified across these workshops.

 

Demera Cooperative

Vision

By 2023, Demera Paprika Cooperative will own its own office and warehouse, have not less than 3000 members, producing and selling at least 500 tonnes of paprika per year with a steady access to a commercial market.

Specific goals

  1. Increase in membership

We want to see in 5 years’ time that our membership has increased from 200 to 3000 members by organizing sensitization meetings to the people of the community.

  1. Increase in production

We want to see that our production has increased from 30 tons from our last harvest in 2017 to 500 tons by the year 2023 through modern methods of production and mobilising more members to grow paprika

  1. Business strengthening

We want to see by the year 2023 that our cooperative has managed to secure 5 reliable markets where we are going to sell our products and buy a 5-tonne truck to transfer our produce to the markets and ferry cooperative members to different meetings.

  1. Build a warehouse/office

We want to see that by the year 2023 we have built a warehouse/office that will help us to keep/store our paprika and other farm produce safe ready for the market.

 

 

Milindi Cooperative

By 2023, Milindi Cooperative will be self-reliant with a vibrant membership base that will support the growth of the cooperative by owning more shares and actively involved in the production of different crops promoted by the cooperative.

We will achieve the above by:

  1. Strengthen cooperative business

We will jump from 49 members currently to 800 members by 2013.  All members will be trained in cooperative principles and their duties and responsibility.

  1. Improve the quality of production

As a core area of the business, we will work to improve quality by encouraging our members to use high-quality seeds which in turn will increase our output and fetch high prices on the market.

  1. Markets and sales

We will endeavor to secure at least 5 reliable markets and increase our capital base from MK350, 000 in 2018 to MK5million in 2023.

  1. Storage and handling

We own a warehouse and an office by 2023

 

 

Tithetse Umphawi

By 2023, our cooperative will be very stable and vibrant with more than 500 members, producing and selling Cassava and cassava products to big companies at a profit and thereby serving the needs of the members and develop our community.

We will achieve the above by:

  1. Increase membership

We will strive to increase our membership from 50 to 500 by organizing sensitization meetings to the people of the community.

  1. Increase in production

We will endeavor to produce not less than 3500 tons of Cassava by the year 2023. This will be achieved through mobilizing more members to grow more cassava and ensuring access to training in cassava production as well as access to high-quality planting materials.

  1. Cooperative business

We will work hard to secure 5 reliable markets where we are going to sell our products. The target is to have a profit of not less than MK5million per annum.

  1. Build a warehouse/office

We want to see that by the year 2023 we have built a warehouse/office that will help us to keep/store our cassava and for the production of starch and other high-quality cassava products.

 

 

We are so excited to be a part of these bold visions! Over the ensuing months, Empower Malawi will be working closely with these cooperatives to determine their specific training and investment needs. We will then be organising training in areas such as financial literacy, cooperative development, and agroecology. Further to this, we will make direct investments or help secure funding for vital equipment and infrastructure e.g. solar systems or agro-processing machinery. Through a five year commitment, we will build strong relationships and gradually build the capacity of these cooperatives to increase their local impact. These are the endeavours that your valuable donations go towards:)

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