Malawi's agricultural sector employs nearly 90% of the working age population and the majority engage in small scale agriculture. Many suffer from low productivity as a result of a reliance on rain fed irrigation, low quality inputs, insufficient agricultural extension services, limited access to markets, and inadequate financial services. Their situation is worsened by increasingly erratic weather conditions due to climate change.
This four-year project focuses on increasing the production of dietary staples - groundnuts, maize and beans - and nutrient rich soybeans which are used as a fortifier and has commercial value as livestock feed.
The INVEST Co-op Malawi project will:
• Establish demonstration plots to introduce new agricultural techniques, promote conservation farming practices, and minimal-loss post harvest handling
• Network small scale farmer clubs together to form producer co-ops to reach economic scale
• Develop new marketing co-ops in three districts and train partner staff in co-op development
• Form and link farmer savings groups to savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs) for expanded services, provide financial literacy training to group members, and modify the group cash-out cycle to coincide with farmer input requirements
• Initiate a youth savings program, including sponsoring school based savings clubs, linking these to SACCOs, and providing financial literacy and entrepreneurship training to school age youth
• Strengthen an SMS (short message service) platform for disseminating market information to co-ops and farmer members
• Train government extension workers, co-operative leaders and farmers on the on the importance of women's roles in agriculture.