My name is Mercilina Lwanda, I am aged 29. I am an agribusiness specialist by professional holding Master and Bachelor Degrees in Agribusiness Management obtained from the University of Malawi (Bunda College). Currently, I am working as a Country Technical Expert in Investment under the Cassava Adding Value for Africa (CAVA) Project within the Chemistry Department, Chancellor College.
The Government of Malawi has been promoting the establishment of farmer organizations including agriculture cooperatives in an effort to help small scale farmers improve their income and develop their managerial skills by venturing into a business oriented approach to farming. Despite the benefits associated with agriculture cooperatives, it has been noted that the performance and sustainability of most agriculture cooperatives as business entities in my community has been unsuccessful. The failure is mostly linked to lack of knowledge and understanding of the business model of a cooperative, their levels of business capital, access to credit, value addition activities, levels of production cost, target market and access to market information and management and organizational structures of cooperatives.
In relation to this background it is therefore important that members who want to join this type of farmer organisations have all the necessary information on agriculture cooperatives business model before they venture into its business in order to improve the levels of its performance and sustainability. Those that have already joined need to be reoriented on the basics of their organisation.
This project is about raising awareness on benefits of agriculture cooperatives and capacity building on business oriented to farming using agriculture cooperative business model. Raising awareness and imparting the right knowledge and skills will bring in the change of mindset on farming as usual. Change of mindset is the most important tool for poverty alleviation. Capacity building has the potential to remain even after the funding window. Farmers will still have the knowledge on how to do it and continue to do it for their survival.
The project will do a number of community mobilization and sensitization on benefits and advantages of farmer organizations with an emphasis on agriculture cooperatives business model for community members who would like to join. It will also involve re-orientation of existing cooperative members on business management, cooperatives, entrepreneurship and leadership to improve their skills and understanding of business issues. Agriculture Extension Development officers who are working under Ministry of Agriculture within the community will also be trained on the same as trainer of trainers so that they can replicate the same across the area. This will ensure sustainability and ripple effect impact.
In a period of 6 months the project will be able to show meaningful progress, in community mobilization and capacity building. The Project will implement these principles using a method of asset based community development approach. This method focuses on community’s assets first which is the base or root from which communities should start from and ensures ownership and sustainability. The methodology will involve strategy development by cooperative members in identifying challenges and risks faced by their farmer organisations, how to overcome them, how to progress after failure and action plan.
This project aims at building capacity leading to successful agriculture business performance and sustainability thereby meeting the objective of increasing farmer base of income; when a farmer has a stable and certain source of income it changes life (food availability, supply basic needs, healthy life, active participation in development and all that concerns making his life better)
What motivates me to do this project is the passion to see my community member’s lives change for the better. Through the project funds I will help to build capacity of these farmers and make them believe in themselves that it is possible to run a thriving and successful business enterprise even though they are not educated to fit a certain standard. A long term solution is in providing them with a thing that no one can take it away from them and thus ‘’Knowledge”. This is considered to be effective way because once one has been taught how to fish; he will be fishing to get money than giving one the fish which is already caught, which is not sustainable. I take myself as a leader and Leadership comes in leading by example in addressing this challenge.
Through the organisation that I am working with I have managed to train a number of farmer agriculture cooperatives in crop production and business management skills. We have successfully facilitated creation of business opportunities for the private sector partners which have ensured market access for farmers. Some of the products have been sold to manufacturing industries in Malawi.
Measurable Indicators include:
- Number of community mobilization and awareness campaigns
- Number of agribusiness management trainings conducted
- Number of agriculture cooperatives trained in my community
- Number of Agriculture extension workers trained
- Conduct 2 Community mobilization and awareness campaign meetings: US$533
- Conduct Reorientation of 25 existing agriculture cooperatives members (3 members each cooperative): US$1600
- Conduct Training of Trainers on business management skills training to 15 Agriculture Extension Development Officer: US$1333
- Compile handouts on Agriculture Cooperative business management skills (stationery cost): US$633
- Operational costs: US$500
- Hiring cost: US$400
Total Cost US$4999
Blogpost and picture submitted by Mercilina Lwanda (Malawi) –linahlwanda[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
This post is published as proposal #59 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.
The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.
As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:
- Leave a comment (question, suggestion,..) on this project in the comment field at the bottom of this page
- Support the post by clicking the “Like” button below (only possible for those with a WordPress.com account)
- Spread this post via your social media channels, using the hashtag: #GCARD3
Have a look at the other “YAP” proposals too!
As a donor, support young agripreneurs and sponsor this unique project. Check out the side column for our current sponsors.
“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.