By Daniel Namwini, MANA
Eight cooperatives, under Agriculture Commercialisation (AGCOM) tproject, have been awarded project grants worth K355.2 million to increase their agricultural value chains covering crops, horticulture, livestock and aquaculture.
Among the awardees are Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association (SHMPA) from Blantyre; ACADES Youth Producers Association; Likuni Milk Bulking Group (both from Lilongwe); Mchinji Dairy Cooperative from Mchinji.
Others are Mzuzu Livestock Cooperative from Mzimba North; Chisenga Honey Producers and Marketing Cooperative from Chitipa; Nsanama Women Cassava Producer and Marketing Cooperative from Machinga and Salima Dairy Farmers Cooperative from Salima.
Speaking on Thursday during the cheque presentation ceremony in Mchinji, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Erica Maganga said the cooperatives earned the awards after meeting the requirement of contributing 30% of the total cost of their assets.
“Their contribution is two-ford, minimum of 10% is in cash contribution and up to 20% in kind, depending on the choice of capital assets,” she said.
Maganga said each producer organization was required to operate following their cooperative principles that emphasizes on business.
“Producer organizations that are not registered as cooperatives but have qualified for the Malawi Agricultural Commercialization (AGCOM) Matching Grant provide commitment to be trained and registered as a cooperative,” Maganga added.
National Project Coordinator for AGCOM, Teddie Nakhumwa said through the project, they are working with producer organizations that have formed productive alliances with off-takers through a commercial agreement.
“These are small-scale and emerging farmers that are working together in producer organization (POs) such as cooperatives and producing for the market.
“We are targeting all viable value chains in crops such as soya beans, groundnuts, rice, tea, coffee, including horticultural crops such as bananas, mangoes, chillies, tomatoes and vegetables, livestock and fisheries including aquaculture,” he said.
Vice-chairperson for Mchinji District Council, Harris Chikoti appealed to beneficiaries to put these hard earned resources to good use and encouraged others to utilise this opportunity and submit their business concept notes to AGCOM.
On behalf of the beneficiaries, Loveness Andiseni for Nsanama Women Cassava Producer and Marketing Cooperative from Machinga said the grants received would assist them to procure capital assets.
“We will be able to procure farming machinery, processing equipment, dairy cattle, and livestock and fish stocks among others,” she said.
Over 22 agricultural cooperatives across the country were approved for the matching grants award since January 2020.