YAP proposal #188: Sunflower Secrets: Paupers to a Developed Community (Lovemore Mtsitsi, Malawi)

Sunflower Oil 2

Hello there! My name is Lovemore Mtsitsi, a 28-year-old agribusiness specialist from Malawi. As a zealous young agripreneur, I am passionate about initiating and promoting innovative and sustainable economic development agendas driven by social innovation.

Meanwhile, I am working for a consortium of practical action—Hivos, Environment Africa and Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD)—as a Markets and Business Development Officer for the Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities (SE4RC) project, Chikwawa, Malawi.

At all times, I follow, with keen interest, the economic development trends of my country. Through such interest, I have noted that, Malawi’s economic development aspirations are guided by her overarching medium term strategy: the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II (MGDS II).

The philosophy of the MGDS II revolves around transforming the country’s economy from the current predominantly importing and consuming economy to a predominantly producing and exporting economy. Adopting this philosophy coupled with hard work, unity and a strong zeal, I believe that the country can manage to harness the few available resources and accelerate poverty reduction in the country.

As one way of reducing her import bill, I am convinced that Malawi can do away with importation of other goods and services, which can be produced locally at a lower cost. With relevant value addition activities and adherence to high quality standards, it is even possible for the rural poor masses to break through into the international market and contribute to the exporting philosophy of the MGDS II.

Among the goods that are imported but can be produced locally are edible oils. Importation of these oils is still relatively high with 18,372 tonnes of crude and refined oil being formally imported into Malawi in 2012 alone.

Oilseed crops in Malawi are useful both for food and cash. However, the present production levels of edible oils in Malawi, at 25,000 tonnes, is not satisfying the existing demand, currently at 53,000 Metric Tonnes, hence necessitating importation.

Improving production of these oilseeds in the country has the potential of significantly reducing the need for importation hence contributing to the MGDS II. The major oilseed crops grown in Malawi are Sunflower and Sesame in addition to soybean, groundnuts, and cotton.

Sunflower oil is one of the top-quality edible oils and its cake is used in production of stock feed. However, small-scale sunflower oil production in Malawi is still in its infancy and the demand for Sunflower oil is not satiated.

Looking at this enormous available potential, this business project is being proposed to take advantage of this untapped potential while contributing to the national goals of the country. The Malawi Oilseeds Sector Transformation (MOST) programme being implemented in Malawi has reiterated that both domestic and international market opportunities for the sunflower sector are sprouting. This is despite the fact that the sunflower sector is heavily under exploited.

Through this business project, I intend to establish a sunflower oil processing plant in my community. The plant will provide processing services to the local community whereby, at a small cost, the community will bring their sunflower for processing.

Once processed, the individual accessing the processing service will get the oil while I will retain the seed cake. In turn, I will liaise with both domestic and commercial livestock feed manufacturers within the vicinity of my community for them to be buying my seed cake. At the outset, I will provide this service on an individual basis where individual farmers will be bringing their sunflower for processing as individuals.

In the long run, however, some of the profits generated from the business will be ploughed back into the community by facilitating the establishment of a cooperative. Using these funds, I will train the community in group dynamics and business management.

Then, I plan to revamp already existing farmer groups and assist them through all the processes of forming a marketing cooperative. Once operational, the cooperative will be assisted by my business to establish a sunflower oil business where they will, in collaboration with my business, be processing their sunflower oil for sale in the local community and beyond.

The community will benefit from their sunflower oil sales, thus improving their income levels. In addition, local production of sunflower oil is envisaged to boost the nutritional status of the local community, owing to the ease of availability of these edible oils. On the other hand, my business will profit through the seed cake sales and the processing fees paid by the cooperative.

I believe that, with support from the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) and adherence to high quality standards during processing, the sunflower oil produced by the cooperative can be certified, in the long run. Once certified, the business with the assistance of the Ministry of Trade, both at the local government and national levels, can further add value to the oil by packaging and labelling it attractively and nicely making it highly competitive and ready for the international market.

We note, therefore, that, with smooth implementation, this business project has the potential to provide a marketing outlet for the helpless rural farmers and reduce their post-harvest losses. In addition, the business project will reduce imports and promote exports of edible oils thus contributing to the MGDS II.

What is more, the business project would employ four people at the outset, with possible additional employment opportunities as the business grows, thus contributing to employment levels in the community.

With this project, people in my community can graduate from being paupers and destitute into great and developed members of the society.

As said, this business project is stimulated by the desire to contribute to the Malawi government’s drive to spur agricultural processing and promote exports. Additionally, according to the MOST programme, the benefits of promoting the Sunflower industry in Malawi are apparent.

Thus far, we note that sunflower processing has the potential to: ease rural poverty, widen the national export base, and provide raw materials for livestock feed production. It also provides low-cost rural access to vegetable fat thereby offering a source of an alternative nutritional value for a healthy nation.

Over and above that, sunflower processing provides an avenue for community and national economic growth. Fortunately enough for Malawian smallholder farmers and this business project, sunflower production is feasible in most regions of the country and is well suited for smallholder production owing to its straightforward requirements and a few necessary inputs.

Measurable success factors

The success of this business project will be measured through:

  • Number of people processing sunflower oil at the processing plant
  • Amount of oil processed at the plant per month
  • Amount of seed cake produced by the plant
  • Changes in income levels of community members accessing the service

Budget: I intend to use the USD 5,000 grant as follows:

  • Preparatory meetings (April–July)                                                       USD 100
  • Procurement and Installation of plant and working capital (August–November) USD 4,200
  • Promotional activities of the business project (On-going) USD 100
  • Staff training in plant and business operations (November–January)                   USD 150
  • Wages for four staff for three months (February–April)                                                       USD 350

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Lovemore Mtsitsi (Malawi): lovemtsitsi[at]gmail.com

The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.

 

This post is published as proposal #188 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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210 thoughts on “YAP proposal #188: Sunflower Secrets: Paupers to a Developed Community (Lovemore Mtsitsi, Malawi)

  1. Not only is this idea brilliant but its also motivating.. I mean, with the closing of Malawi Unilever factories and other oil producing companies, we really need this as Malawians. I personally think it will be something productive for our farmers and we will also benefit a lot.. I see so many opportunities from this especially with less job opportunities here people will be helped. I like this very much.

    1. You are spot on Mwai. This idea attempts to use the few available resources to create as many opportunities as possible while promoting individual and national economic growth. Any ideas on how i can improve this idea further?

      1. Approximately, how many paupers are going to benefit from this initiative in the first year?

  2. Hi Lovemore Tsitsi

    This is a very good idea worth initiation. This is what Malawi needs, to explore more cash crops for economic development and social livelihood improvement in the context of climate change effects.

    I fully support your idea

    All the best
    Edward Maferano

    1. Thanks for your support Edward. Indeed, we need to explore other cash crops and, of cause, promote value addition even in the face of climate variability and beyond that, Malawi’s ‘green gold’ is facing a growing anti-smoking campaign that necessitates us to diversify and find other means of increasing our export base.

  3. Brilliant idea Lovemore, we need such projects to support emerging sunflower farmers especially youths and women who are usually small-scale and resource poor to commercially successful farmers. The project will give farmers access to skills to support on agricultural best practices and markets through cooperative which small scale farmers need to thrive.

    1. Langson, am glad we are thinking alike. My idea of forming a cooperative goes beyond processing to acting as a focal point for demanding and accessing agricultural extension and other support services in addition to incorporating the youth and women in developmental work. Nevertheless, I believe there is room for improvement for this idea, and I will be glad to hear your ideas on how I can make this project a success we all envisage it to be. Thank you.

      1. I support Mwai on the idea of bringing job opportunities with the high unemployment rate in Malawi

    1. Piwa, thanks for your compliment. I wish to believe the small scale machine can be re-oriented at a small cost to process other oil seeds as well. What are your thoughts?

      1. Lovemore I think it will be a great idea to consider other oil seeds so that not only sunflower farmers or communities benefit from this but also other oil seeds farmers and communities should develop with this initiative.

  4. A good project proposal, Malawi needs such innovative projects which can bail out the poor from dire poverty. But where exactly will this project be implemented in Malawi. Think of an area where sunflower does better as regards the issues of climate change and variability.

    1. Thank you Sellina. The idea is to implement the project within Blantyre ADD, based on: ecological zone relative to Sunflower production (and possibly other oil seeds production), market for sunflower oil and market for sunflower seed cake. I welcome your suggestions if you have, in mind, other areas where you think this idea would flourish.

  5. Wow! Thats a good intervention as it will ease poverty at the same time empowering the community as they will be producing oil on their own.
    The intervention will also help eradicate the problem that most farmers meet of lack of reliable markets of their produce as after processing they will be selling the final produce which is oil unlike selling the raw materials which attract low prices.

  6. wow this is an amazing initiative!!! The scaling up of oil seed production will drive Malawi to exit the dependance of growing, processing, selling and exporting the same few crops. Your business will give room for farmers to diversify, learn about processing, offer employment to youths in your community and organise the farmers through a cooperative.

    1. Word Carol. That’s the philosophy behind the idea: assist the marginalized farmers to add value to their products and help them to access better markets with a product that can fetch higher prices and improve their incomes while I make a profit as well, as a young agripreneur. Thank you.

    2. That’s the whole idea Via Nyirenda. With a few resources, I should open up opportunities for processing, promote exports, create employment opportunities and make it more sustainable by organizing the farmers into a cooperative. Ultimate goal, make a profit while promoting economic empowerment for the community and alleviate poverty. Thanks for your comment!

  7. considering that Malawian farmers prioritize maize over other crops in allocation of land for cultivation, how do you intend then to motivate smallholder farmers to increase land allocation to sunflower so that supply of raw materials to the processing plant is not affected?

    1. Thanks for your question Doshanie Kadokera. Well, for starters, the targeted action area is already a sunflower producing area. Second, this initiative is promoting agribusiness and value addition for the farmers thus promoting income for the farmers, that should be a motivator for them to grow Sunflower grain. In addition, this processing plant will improve greater local utilization of Sunflower products and this is envisaged to lead to an increase in production of sunflower grain in general. Lastly, adequate and additional support from the government of Malawi’s line ministries of Agriculture and Trade would also be a significant factor in promoting general production of Sunflower grain. I believe you may have other ideas on how I can ensure uninterrupted supply of Sunflower grain for processing, please feel free to bring them forward.

  8. Thats a very good idea Lovemore! keep it up. Just increase the wages for the staff members so that they put your brilliant project with much enthusiasm

  9. Malawi has stalled in development because it lacked innovative ideas like this one. The idea touches on all spheres required for development ranging from knowledge impartation through trainings,economic empowerment,health unrisk and sustainabilty.Bravo Lovemore

    1. You are spot on Leonard Chiluzi. Without being greedy, the business project is viable enough and at the same time, its more of a social service that ensures that the rural vulnerable masses are empowered. With good collaboration with the relevant government line ministries, we can impart not only business knowledge but also a spirit that is development conscious, we can empower them economically, ensure their healthy well being and these would go a long way in ensuring sustainability of the development drive. Thanks once again.

  10. I like this proposal idea very much especially for small holder farmers value addition is way to go. Establishment and strenghthening of cooperatives would be key for this project to materialise, farmers will be able to control the prices of their produce and hence empowering themselves. Maybe the use of other oil seeds can also be explored in place of sunflower.

    1. Thank you Autile Sanyila for your suggestion. Indeed, I wish to believe it is possible to include other oil seeds for processing. Am beginning to think I can target several groups of farmers depending on the type of oil seed crop that they grow. And, having them linked up, this can improve the quantity of oil supplied to their market which is a critical factor for our smallholder farmers to breakthrough in structural markets.

  11. Woooow! This is a brilliant idea Love,its like killing 5 birds with one stone,this will reduce the Malawi’s imports bill,at the same time assisting the poor farmer through the cooperatives,in the long run serving a purpose of accelerating poverty reduction in the country. Malawi has relied on tobacco and the like as cash crops for a long time,its high time we begin to explore other cash crops like the way you have proposed. Other than that,creation of employment opportunities for the youth..wooow!.Only if Malawi had 10 more people who could come up with excellent proposals like such poverty would be history by now.

    1. Hallo Dorie! That’s an excellent view you just gave there. With this business project, I believe we can take people out of the abyss of poverty – from paupers to a developed community. The philosophy of this project revolves around using the same resources that the farmers have (sunflower grain) to create more wealth by moving a few steps forward in the Sunflower value chain. On the other hand, the project empowers the farmers with one of the most powerful tools man can have, knowledge. Add to that the employment opportunities that comes with it, the project is bordering around social innovation.

  12. For so long we have been talking of Malawi as a agro based economy, but not much to this effect have we done. Lovemore, this is a good idea and development as we diversify in our agricultural activities. This idea will not only improve levels of income in most of Malawians, but also give confident to market players in the resources we have that it is possible to go with agricultural industrial ideas. Let this be one way of agricultural mechanization as we preach that it is the only way to accelerate our agricultural production.

    1. Right Vincent. If simple mechanization has the potential to unlock such wealth, how would the Malawian Economy be like if we encouraged such projects? Thanks for your support.

  13. This is the way to go. We have been talking of Malawi been an agro-based country, but not much have been done to this effect, in addition innovative ideas such as what you’re doing is what is missing in the formula. I believe if this idea is implemented, it will not only improve most people’s income, but also act as a motivation and a confident builder in the agricultural industrialization as well as agricultural mechanisation which is preached to be the best tool to boost Malawi. Bravo Lovemore

      1. That’s the best way, developing countries can bail ourselves out poverty. Please make that formula work

  14. As a sunflower farmer, I wish this could have also been implemented in my community. this is a brilliant idea. It can improve farmers’ earnings through better sales from refined or crude oil as opposed to the current low prices for the raw sunflower. All the the best bro!!!!!

    1. That’s the spirit Hopefa Chris. With this seed funding and proper implementation, you never know how far and wide this idea can go. Other Oil seed producing areas like Balaka and Salima are also on my mind.

  15. This is a very good idea, it will promote sunflower farming in Malawi and transform the industry. All the best Lovemore.

    1. I most appreciate your compliment and support Grace. Above all, I expect this project to benefit a wider community and bring about community development thus making a contribution to national economic growth, small as it may sound.

  16. I am ”team promoting cooperatives” and I support this idea 100%. A small question though; I would like to know the capacity of the sunflower processing plant you are requesting; (how much can it produce per hour)

    1. “Team promoting cooperatives”! Thanks for the support team player. The small scale processing machine am contemplating on using has the capacity of producing 42, 000 Litres of oil per year. By the way, since there is no I in a team, I think I and my community can definitely benefit from your expertise when it comes to cooperative development as you further your support for this project, can’t I?

      1. For sure you will. I would love to help. and now you have a task to promote production of sunflower from your farmers as well once this project has made it.

      2. That’s the way to go Mercilina. I was thinking I could make use of available support from Ministries of Agriculture and Trade to promote production of Sunflower grain.

  17. The proposal is a good idea. It focuses on an activity that can be comfortably implemented at local and rural level without huge capital outlay. It is further good because it aims at import substitution and wealth creation. I suggest that a comparison of potential incomes from this sunflower project be compared to the current popular enterprises, such as tobacco and maize, to offer some understanding as to why sunflower is not already popular, and to show why possibly the farmer will convert. All the best

    1. I will definitely consider your suggestion as I think, a similar comparison to incomes from selling Sunflower grain could also provide a good platform for promoting Sunflower processing thus fostering sustainability of this project.

  18. I like this proposal idea very much Love. Small holder farmers will benefit from this and as such farmers’ earnings will be boosted through better sales from refined or crude oil as opposed to the current low prices for the raw sunflower.

    1. Thanks Catherine. Indeed, agro-processing will definitely add value to the raw agricultural produce, sunflower grain in this case, and with assistance to access better markets, these smallholder farmers will realize better incomes befitting their toil.

  19. A briliant idea worthy pursing in a bid to turn the misfortunes of smallholder farmers……all the best Lovemore

    I fully support the idea

    1. Thanks for your support Liberty Neba. Be in the know that I am welcoming ideas on how I can improve the project to make it more viable and sustainable. Feel free to come forward with any if and when you have some. Thanks once again.

  20. This is one of the best ideas for our country to develop. The proposed project is very sustainable and really need to be supported for the sake of our country’s development.

    1. Thoko Lunda, you are right. This project idea is focused on community development and contributing to national development. Lets support it more for the betterment of our rural communities. Thanks for the support.

  21. This is a brilliant idea Lovemore. We need such people who can think outside the box. Most African countries are failing to develop because they have good ideas which they fail to put into practice. I pray that this should be funded, and as a specialist in Food Technology i can help to train the employees in some aspects of food processing (for free). Good luck Lovemore.

    1. Wow! Am enthused by your offer Chifundo. As aforesaid in the proposal, with UNITY, we can achieve the impossible. I salute you for your support and willingness to offer support during implementation.

  22. Hi Lovemore, this is a good idea. One question though is regarding the total cost for the pilot activity. Did you do a thorough research in terms of the cost of the processing plant and the willingness among community members to make a small payment for the processing services? What is the fee that one will be required to pay to process a kg/tin of sunflower and is this adequate as a sustainability strategy for the project?

    1. Thanks Abel Nyoni for your support and questions. First, I did some research and the start-up fixed and working capital hovers around MK3, 200, 000 (approximately 4, 300USD at MK745/$). The anticipated processing fees is around MK40/kg (and given that you need 4kgs to make 1 litre, they would be paying MK160/litre of oil). At this processing fees and in addition to that, add revenue from seed cake sales, the prospects look promising. The project is sustainable and would be generating enough revenue to be a going concern.

    2. In addition to that, you may wish to know that a well managed Sunflower processing business has the potential to generate a gross profit before tax and interest of up to MK500, 000/month. In business sense, that amount of profit is enough to ensure sustainability of the project.

  23. Like others, this commendable and innovative. However, Sellina asked about the locality of project. You did mention that the project will be in Blantyre. I am not aware if you have considered Chikwawa where you are currently especially Ngabu area and Sorgin EPA, where the crop grows well and there is good number of livestock farmers who would utilize the seed cake. In addition, the sunflower would be easily adopted as a substitute crop of other crops that fail due to insufficient annual rainfall received.

    1. Oscar, I appreciate your support and suggestion. Well, the original idea is to have the project implemented in Blantyre bearing in mind availability of a market for the seed cake. I intend to sell the seed cake to feed manufacturers rather than directly to livestock farmers. However, the areas you have suggested are indeed well suited for the project. These areas are also on my mind relative to expansion of the business in case of success of the proposal and consequently the business.

  24. Gracious Mnjengezulu, Nkhamenya, Jalafi Village, TA Kaluluma, Kasungu District, Malawi, Central Africa says:

    Hi Lovemore, this is a must do project for Malawi especially you need to do it in rural area. That will reduce cost of production for your oil, seed cake for livestock and cost of transportation for taking sunflower to the factory in turn develop rural areas. This again has an impact of reducing rural to urban migration as it will create jobs for youths who will be growing sunflower and those who will be employed at the factory. Our farmers are looking for markets, not only ordinary markets but good markets, your project can really create a market for rural masses who produce sunflower, in my own village Jalafi, TA Kaluluma, Kasungu district, most farmers stopped growing sunflower because of poor and unreliable markets, in those days when we had National Oil (Noil) Company and Unilever buying sunflower, farmers used to produce a lot of sunflower because they had good and reliable market and made lots of monies. Today these companies are no longer buying sunflower as such most sunflower goes to factories through entermediary buyers who buy at a very low price but sell at a very good price at the factory. Shame of such entermediary buyers. Go go go Lovemore with this project, if you do not have land I can organize it for you in Nkhamenya Kasungu where sunflower does very well.

    1. Wow wow! Am inspired by your comment Gracious. The philosophy behind the project is taking a somehow holistic approach to poverty alleviation by using otherwise underutilized agricultural enterprises like Sunflower. Being mindful that the oil that is processed will belong to the farmers themselves, the project eliminates the scrupulous middleman who has been benefiting at the expense of the rural farmer. With this support, the farmer will be able to sell crude edible oil as opposed to selling Sunflower grain. Like I said, lucky enough for this project, Sunflower production is feasible in many regions of the country, including Kasungu as you have alluded to. However, once the proposal is successful, the initial processing plant will be planted in Blantyre and with good management, I foresee the idea being replicated in other areas where Sunflower (or other oil seed crops) is feasible. I just knew now who to contact for help when I am to take it to Kasungu. Thank you for your support.

  25. This is a great proposal Lovemore! At least it takes our farmers away from tobacco for once! I would love if you had enhanced your proposal on how is tallies with the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals! How does it matches with making Malawians more active in addressing inequalities, natural resource management, eradication of all forms of poverty and hunger! This was you situate your proposal within the larger global framework! I know the project already addresses these areas and even more, it is just a matter of you specifying them and being aligned and displaying the relevance! Otherwise it’s great work wRoth funding!

    1. Hi Hastings! I wish I did align the project with the SDGs but the requirements for proposal preparation were rather limiting in terms of space. However, as you have highlighted, once implemented, this project would contribute directly to a number of SDGs notably: SDG1, SDG2, SDG3, SDG5, SDG8, SDG9 and SDG12. The project clearly shows that it provides the rural poor masses with an escape route out poverty thus contributing to poverty alleviation. Owing to the easy availability of these low cost edible oils, the project offers a source of an alternative nutritional value for the rural poor. In addition, promoting cooperative development will in a way promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and women empowerment. What’s more, the SDGs indicate that small and medium-esized enterprises that engage in industrial processing and manufacturing are the most critical for the early stages of industrialization and are typically the largest job creators. This project clearly fits in the bill. Thank you for your support.

    1. Glad you are that expectant as well Yvonne. You see, when I get lost in my own little world, I see a Sunflower farmer coming to the processing plant with her 4kgs of Sunflower grain and MK160 and gets 1 litre of edible oil home. Isn’t that beautiful?

  26. Some time last year NABW trained some women in making sunflower oil. They gave the women zigayo to make oil so that they partner with farmers to buy their sunflower . With your proposed project which is targeting the youth, it will boast the sunflower industry because it will be approached in two fronts through the youth and women. It would very beneficial for Malawi youth if you win this funding. All the best.

    1. Thank you Nyago for the support and for bringing that development to my attention. I could definitely draw useful lessons from that particular project that would enhance this project. Thank you once again.

  27. Great ideas from great minds. I see a lot of innovation in this. Value chain upgrading in action.

    1. New fresh ideas are highly capable of changing our tomorrow. Taking farmers from one step of the Sunflower value chain to the next (adding valuable value along the way), improve incomes, create job opportunities and, above all, create wealth for a better community. Together, transforming communities from being paupers into economically stable, great and developed ones. Thanks Joshua Masangano. Any ideas to improve the initiative?

  28. Lovemore, awesome social business idea! in addition to Mercilina’s comment on the production capacity of your plant per hour, could you also provide a picture of your anticipated total fixed cost and gross profit margin.

    1. Daniel, the research that I conducted revealed that the anticipated initial cash flow outlay covering both fixed and working cost is around MK3, 200, 000 and that the business has the potential to generate a monthly Gross Profit before interest and tax of MK500, 000. Thanks for your support and feel free to share your ideas on how this can be improved for the betterment of our communities.

  29. For such problems of importatiön to end in Malawi we really need a good step to innovation, this is one brilliant innovative idea and it’s my wish to see it pass and Malawi will never be the same, keep up the good work my brother.

    1. Thanks Willard. Innovation is one way we can, together, build a better Malawi for us all. Its high time the youthful section of our population took part in widening the export base of the country. Thanks for your support!

    1. You are right Robiam Tongola. The project makes available a cheap alternative source of fat in addition to improving incomes. It is surely expected to contribute to having a healthy community. Thank you specially for the support.

    1. Spot on Chifundo Gilbert Chintokoma. The choice of the oil seed crop was also based on the healthy living campaigns that have been on the rise in the recent years. Thanks for your insights and support really.

    2. The value of the project has already been alluded to. However, I am consent about the budget. in the event you still have to buy machinery, and all the necessary equipment required, budget for insurance and preventive maintenance, renting of the place-may want to budget for four months rental.
      training budget is also limited, you may have to pay trainers-experts
      Budget for communication as well
      buying raw materials
      support staff for cleaning and security
      Also Hope registering and obtaining a license is affordable in your country
      may want to budget for transport, either you collect it yourself or the suppliers bring it to you, all the same you still need a vehicle –

      think hard regarding the budget -make as detailed a budget as possible, it is the small things that consume a lot of money so you don’t want to overlook them

      1. Thank you Regina for your support and insights. Your concerns are valid, its true to some extent that the budget is indeed limited. The budget I have presented was prepared in line with the YAP initial grant’s limit and bearing in mind the critical budget lines that are relevant for operation. Meanwhile, the budget presented above is adequate to cover for: all the necessary start up machinery and equipment (since this is a small scale operation) and staff. Communication was embedded in the promotional budget line. In terms of training, I was of the view that I could use my expertise (group dynamics and business management) in addition to using expertise from friends who would be willing to assist with this initiative. By the way, some have already pledged support to assist with some of the training sessions on this forum. For the raw materials, I think I will not need any as, in the interim, this business will only be offering the processing service. I would be glad if you could suggest ways in which I could raise more funding for this business idea, if you have any. Thanks once again.

  30. What a promising developmental agenda it is. Am wth you Lovemore on this because Malawis opportunity to develop partly lies in agricultural reforms i.e shifting from subsistence farming to treating farming as a business

    1. Thank you Brown for your support. In fact, this project wishes to go even a step further than just taking farming as a business. I would like to inculcate a new kind of thinking that FARMING IS A BUSINESS in our farmers!.

  31. Malawi has long dependent on tobacco as a major Forex earner and is facing a lot of challenges. This would be a way to go in diversifying away from tobacco. nice

    1. Eston Sichali, I thank you for your comment. Indeed, as a country, we need to diversify our economy away from tobacco in the face of the anti-smoking lobby championed by the WHO. I think we have sung this song for quiet some time now and as a youth, we can do something to contribute, small as it may seem, to these national goals.

  32. Overall, the idea of initiating value-addition is excellent. However, I have two concerns regarding the budget. First, the available budget is not reasonable for a successful implementation at a spatial-scale that can stimulate a responsive supply among the sunflower producers. Thus, the processing plant may not spur increased production. Second, where human consumption is considered, the oil processing plant must meet quality standards and this will require some reasonable funding. In view of the above consumer and producer view-points, I would appreciate if other sources of funding could be acquired for you to venture into production, assembling and processing as you propose. Otherwise, with the current level of funding, you may end up concentrating all your efforts in one area eg production, or over-stretch your efforts too thinly to meet the unrealistic donor commitment of $5000. I hope issues of budgeting were thoroughly considered.

    1. You are right Robertson, the seed funding committed is rather limiting indeed. However, in order to make the most out of it in line with my idea, I thought I could start with a small-scale operation and then grow the business by procuring and using bigger and more efficient machinery using the returns from the business or other funding sources. I believe its indeed at that stage that the business could then spur increased production of sunflower grain. In fact, it is at that stage that I am thinking of developing the cooperative. In the proposal, I have touched a little bit on quality assurance where I thought I could make use of expertise and experience from other similar programs by Ministry of Trade (e.g. OVOP which has some oil pressing businesses) to ensure adherence to high quality standards. I have come to learn in the recent past that, at times, it doesn’t really require a lot of funding to produce a better quality product. In light of this, however, I would be glad if you you could assist me with any ideas on how I can source additional funding for the project given its relevance to national economic growth.

  33. Great stuff Lovemore! However, seriously consider the concern of securing constant and growing sunflower supplies for the venture. Also consider on overcoming competition from other players (sunflower buyers with large financial muscle, other processors with cost-effective processing equip.). Also consider sustainability of s/holders’ motivation in the project. However, you have my backing on this project that aims at impacting our country’s economic growth, and economic emancipation of our rural brothers and sisters. Bravo for the great idea!!

    1. Thank you Philip for the insights. On the part of sunflower supply, however, I think that is more to do with ensuring smallholder farmers’ motivation and participation because the project will only be providing a processing service to the farmers. They will be producing the oil for either their consumption or sale in the initial stages and then they will be producing the oil for sale, as a cooperative. Meanwhile, I thought the prospects of processing and selling the same sunflower at a higher price rather than selling raw sunflower at a low price would be a compelling factor for the farmers to support the business. However, I am willing to receive your ideas on how I can guarantee farmer participation, please feel free to bring them forward.

  34. Kudos Lovemore for such a breathtaking innovative idea. Thats the way to go if we are to streamline SH farmers in the value chain. I have a few questions and comments in a quest to enhance your proposal; 1) How do you intend to improve productivity of sunflower in your target community considering that smallholder farmers are characterised by low productivity? (2) what will be the organisational structure of the proposed business i.e. ownership and legal structure? (3) I am a bit skeptical on the total project cost; where will you source the processing plant? its important to attach a quotation from the supplier in the main document if possible.

    COMMENT
    I have in mind of a model called “Spoke and Hub operating model” of which your proposal is emulating. for the model to be efficient, there is need to retain loyalty of the farmers and instill a sense of ownership in them. how do you achieve that? well, you need to allocate shares to the participating farmers such that whatever they will be doing they will know that they are supporting their own business( returns being dividends) at the same time they are being supported (value addition and marketing). thus killing two birds with one stone. when you do that, even when predator vendors come in the community to buy sunflower seed at exploitative prices, farmers will be reluctant to succumb to that exploitation.

    All the best buddy.

    1. Thank you Marvin for your thought provoking questions. First, you may wish to know that Sunflower production has straightforward requirements and needs few necessary inputs and so the lacking factor for high productivity would be extension services, and, of cause somehow beyond our control, effects of climate variability. In order to address the problem of extension, I thought I could make use of the available agricultural extension workers to assist the farmers with the relevant extension advice to improve their productivity. Second, my initial thoughts are that the governance structure of the two business would be a sole proprietorship (for the processing business, where I will be the proprietor) and a partnership/company for the sunflower oil business (farmers will be the owners). These plans, however, are not carved in stone as they are subject to revision depending on the turn out of events in the process of implementation and, of cause, generation of other ideas from people like you! About the project cost, as I have indicated in the budget, the fixed and working cost is enough for a small scale processing machine. I would agree with you that the cost is limited with regard to the other budget lines. With your and other comments above, I am thinking of finding other means of co-funding the business project. Feel free to share with me if you have in mind any avenue through which I can source such funding. Thank you for your comment above, I have taken note of it and will incorporate it in the cooking oil business.

  35. am in love with the approach Lovemore. this is what Malawi has been yearning since independence. Import substitution, co-operatives, job creation for the masses and sustainable development. I would suggest that the first factory be located in a rural area close to where the raw material can be accessed. this is cost effective as well as a motivator to those growing the sunflower. come rain come sunshine this has to be implemented. am very sure this project is going to make it. If not which is the least that can happen, then we can roll it out our selves. I believe you are one of those people with a ‘make it happen attitude’ and as such we join together in the make it happen team. Go Mzugos

    1. Aaah! Michael, what more can I say!? You are spot on, Malawi needs such kind of development projects indeed. As you have rightly put it, the idea is to have the initial processing plant in a rural area where there is sunflower production. Let me take this opportunity to assure you that I am a focused person and am a goal getter. I am thinking of finding alternative sources of funding for the project in the unfortunate event that the proposal doesn’t go through. Thank you for the support.

  36. This is so genius, and coming from young a man like yo my brother, i can safely say Malawi has a brighter future. Keep up the good work. Sonflower oil all the way.

    1. Thank you genius Scott Lungu. Together we can make a difference. Let us unite to make a better Malawi for us all. Team reduce inequalities in income levels…

  37. I like this inspiring project. We need innovative such like this. This may produce some alternative sunflower products eg sunflower oil, which is very important

  38. Great idea-quite inspiring coming from a young Malawian of our generation. It’s ideas such as these that not only Malawi needs, but the whole of Africa to reach out and empower our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers in the rural communities whilst doing business at the same time. You should consider going regional after establishing in Malawi! And as Madiba said, ‘A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.’-you have both and I am looking forward to seeing this come to life..

    1. Chiedza Mazaiwana, I am committed to have this idea come to life and spread it across Malawi and beyond borders to other high oil seed producing countries. I believe I can also empower other youths in those other countries to reach out to other vulnerable oil seed producing smallholder farmers. It sure is a better way of putting business acumen to excellent use rather than being perpetually scrupulous, a tendency which has and continues to leave our small holder farmers destitute. Thank you for your support.

  39. Lovemore,
    This is very excellent idea. This will develop Malawi both socially and economically.
    Keep it up!

  40. Congratulations Lovemore, your idea is very good and if implemented, it will improve not only the knowledge base of farmers but provide employment opportunities thereby increasing levels of income for Malawians. Brilliant!!!

    1. Diana, even with a few resources, we can bring about long lasting solutions to our economic woes. We can create employment opportunities from close to nothing and together, we can contribute to our national developmental goals. Just curious, would this project be implementable in Zambia?

  41. Thumbs up buddy… Our country sure need these kinda minds,if we could all reason like this Malawi would be a better place to live in…100%

  42. Thumbs up buddy,, Malawi sure need minds like these. If we could all reason like this sure this country would be a better place to live in…proud of you dear..100% you go.

    1. Thank you Alexa Mzembe. We all have that special something that we can do better than anyone else and we need the zeal to bring that particular idea to life to make a better Malawi. I appreciate your support.

  43. Brilliant idea Lovemore. We really need more ideas like that in Malawi and much more support in every aspect of the word.

  44. Thats the way to Love. Value addition and processing is what is greatly needed. Youth should rise up…. big up!!!

    1. Youth can rise up and make a meaningful contribution to our societies and make the world a better place to live in. You are right Madalitso Chidumu!

  45. Malawi needs these kind of initiatives. I pray this proposal gets the funding so that such brilliant ideas do not go to waste.

  46. Just one question though, I see this is a youth project, so how do you intend to benefit other youths in your area?

    1. Well, Maxwell, I would like to benefit the youth on two fronts, first is the employment opportunities that may come with this project. Secondly, I plan to put in place deliberate measures for youth (and women) inclusion in the cooperative that will be formed. Thank you for your support.

  47. Lovemore, excellent idea and coming at the right time when Malawi is struggling to replace tobacco as a major forex earner. Well articulated proposal that I believe will mark the birth of something massive. Wish you success in this. How I wish government created an enabling environment for right thinking Malawians like you. Proud of you!

    1. This project could never come at a right time like this indeed Benjamin. Having it implemented would be a genesis for a better Malawi. Thank you for your support!

  48. This is great Love! The beauty of this proposal is that it addresses so many economic goals, both macro and micro economic. By directly contributing to the vision of reduction in imports, it becomes relevant to the overarching macro stability of the country, with appropriate production levels of course! Then it also reachees out at groundroot level by ensuring our key resource, the youth, are having employment opportunities and being given a platform to become productive citizens. I encourage you to seriously ensure that those youth who will be engaged are “incubated” for some period so chances of sustainability are increased!

    1. Thanks Edith. I believe we can put our business acumen to bring about rather holistic solutions to the poverty problem that is prevalent in our country. This project aims to contribute to that goal. Thank you for your support!

    1. Thanks Austin Mbamba. This project is trying to demonstrate that entrepreneurship is not only about milking your customers. Its possible to do business with high integrity while bringing about long lasting changes to the welfare of your customers.

  49. Hie Lovmo…

    Bravo for your Fantastic Idea on issues to do with agri-business mainly agro-processing….amongst Malawian Smallholders..I am having only two questions. The first one being; what measures are you intending to follow to ensure quality in the finished product. Basically from experience I have noted that quality is compromised in as far as many small-holder agro-processing plants are concerned hence making the finished products not to compete well with already established products on the market. My final query is on measures you are going to take to ensure sustainablity amongst all players after the project phase out..if possible consider exit strategies that you will put in place. All in all…Keep it up for a nice proposal.

    1. Patrick, I thank you for taking time to read through and comment on the proposal. To address your questions, first, I intend to train the employees at the small scale processing plant in food processing (some friends have already offered to support with this training). In addition to that, I also intend to liaise with Malawi Bureau of Standards in order to get the standard quality requirements (and possibly certification) so as to ensure that the plant is producing a high quality product. On your second question, I wish to believe that being in business themselves, the farmers will be motivated enough to continue participation in the business project activities beyond the 1 year period stipulated in the proposal.

  50. Lovemore, this is a beautiful idea. processing of our locally available produce in order to reduce imports is one way of taking this country to another level. and the youth too, wanna get employed, a challenge that really needs our help. keep up the great idea.

    1. Surely Jacinta. As a youth, we can come up with innovative means on how we can contribute to youth development in the country. I envisage this project, if well implemented with proper support, to bring about an essential stimulus for hard work and inclusion in development activities. I thank you for your support.

  51. This is great stuff Lovemore
    Malawi needs great minds with these great ideas to make tremendous progress

    Am a 100% behind you on this

    1. Patrick, I have come to learn that we can bring about that tremendous progress and take our grannys, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters out of poverty, even with a few available resources if and only if we dedicate them towards optimal use. I thank you for your support!

  52. This is forward thinking, thump up Love Mtsitsi. I am strongly convinced that this project will provide a strong social and economic value to both community members and the sunflower growing farmers. The social value will motivate the sunflower growing famers in cooperatives setting to work together, share best practices and integrate ideas. On the economic value, the project will enhanced their basic skills needed to market their sunflower on a wider scale giving them better control of their supply, demand and access to capital. I wish you all the best!!

    1. Thank you Atusaye Quitewell Nyondo, It is my wish to see the communities benefiting from this project. That’s my motivation as I believe that we can do business differently and impact the rural poor masses who are desperate for our help.

    1. Thanks Mtambo Knowledge. I bet you will welcome me when i come to you for advice on how I can better implement this project.

    1. We can, in fact, we must take part in dictating the direction of our country as a youth. Being an agrarian economy, we need more youths in agribusiness to contribute to national goals. Thank you Cathy.

  53. lovemore am imprest with your project. malawi can develop economically with this idea. but i would like know currently how much do farmers getting per ha. and also what is the potential yield per ha.

    1. Thank you Chancy Sibakwe for your questions. Well, the current average yields for unimproved varieties of Sunflower is around 500kg/ha and these varieties have the potential to yield 2, 500kgs/ha. On the other hand, improved varieties have the potential to yield up to 4, 000kgs/ha (and, of interest to this project, with an oil content of around 45%). Thank you for your support!

  54. lovemore am suggesting that you also open up a farm and start growing sunflower so that some farmers can come to your sunflower farm and appreciate how you are growing and also learn other benefits of being sunflower farmer. all in all lovemore this is brilliant idea with good vision for our our country’s economy.

    1. Thank you Ettah for your suggestion. You are right, having a farmer field school would also boost the motivation of the farmers leading to improved production levels. I will definitely consider that idea, I think its workable.

  55. Great things start with very small steps. Am in support of this. Its a unique field and trust me, it is profitable not on only to you and the community its going to be planted in but eventually Malawi as a whole. People will learn from this and will also start doing their own.
    But my question is, such brilliant ideas shouldnt just go in vain because of lack of funds. What measures have you taken if the grants aren’t enough? Do you have team to work with you? #TeamWork

    1. You are right Blessings. As a country, we can do better if we develop a habit of harnessing and operationalizing such initiatives. We should never allow such ideas to go to waste. Meanwhile, this is an individual initiative and I haven’t yet taken any measures to find alternative sources of funding in the instance that the proposal fails to get the funding from the YAP project. However, in that case, I won’t take it lying down. I intend to seek such support from other public and/or private agencies that are supportive of youth programs such as this one. I have In mind organizations like; YPARD, YONECO and CCARDESA which can come in handy with the relevant or links to financial support. I could also team up with investors who may be interested and willing to support such an initiative, you are welcome to join the team in that regard Sir. Thank you for your support.

  56. This is an excellent initiative, in the wake of the economic hardships that our country is currently facing. Wishing you all the best.

    1. You are right Victoria. This initiative can help to ease poverty in our economy. Thank you for your support!

  57. This is what Malawi needs, innovative young people who can bring a change in our nation with great ideas as this, am in support you Vumo.

    1. Spot on Elton. We need to make use of such ideas to spur economic development. Thank you for your support.

  58. lovemore just want know target areas. specifically which areas in malawi you intending start or you have started?

    1. Chancy, the plan is to start with Blantyre Rural but other equally feasible areas (like Chikwawa) are also under consideration.

  59. By the way, am in agreement with piwa24 about inclusion of other oil seeds in this project. That would assist to benefit a wider community.

  60. Oh woooooow, I know a great mind when i see 1.your are a great mind Lovemore. What an idea so vibrant. Malawi needs people like you. Malawi needs this…

  61. great idea! just strengthen the community involvement aspect at the initial stages as well to ensure smooth ride.

  62. Lovemore, Your proposal is okay. However, let me give the following comments:
    (1) You should tell us the availability of sunflower in your area, that is how much sunflower is produced by local farmers. This will help in ensuring that the supply as a feed to your proposal is enough to sustain it.
    (2) Also provide a cash flow of your proceedings so that we can see your recovery plan and income

  63. This idea is brilliant Lovemore, it comes with it great opportunity for the farmers as well as the economy at Large. will be following with keen interest.

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