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Agriculture
Sovereign rolls out sustainable farming initiative in Kasiya
April 01, 2024 / Modester Mwalija

ASX-listed Sovereign Metals Limited, which is prospecting for Rutile and Graphite in Kasiya area in Lilongwe, has announced that it has commissioned a Conservation Farming Program in Malawi.

Sovereign Metals MD Frank Eagar says in a statement that the initiative forms part of Sovereign’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Strategy to develop its tier one Kasiya Rutile and Graphite Project while simultaneously restoring and improving the livelihoods of local communities.

“The Program is being implemented by the Company’s experienced team on the ground, which previously ran a very successful initiative for First Quantum Minerals Limited’s Zambian operations where its conservation farming program has been effectively operating since 2010. Between 2020 and 2022 harvest crops increased by 67% from 6,000 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes of maize, with over 7,000 farmers in the program at the end of 2022” says Eagar.

He says that Sovereign has commissioned the initial Program for 90 Malawian maize farmers from within the project area, of which at least 50% are female.

“The Program is to provide training in low-input-cost, high-yield sustainable farming techniques, with the aim to provide a platform for the farmers to increase yield and productivity therefore helping to reduce malnutrition and poverty,” states Eagar.

Conservation farming as a system aims to protect soil from erosion and degradation and increase crop yields. It involves three main principles namely; minimum soil disturbance, such as no-till farming; maintenance of a permanent soil cover, such as cover crops or crop residues; and diversification of plant species, such as crop rotation.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced three senior appointments and promotions across its key legal, permitting, and technical functions in Malawi.

“The appointments have strengthened the Company’s in-country capabilities as it continues to advance its Rutile and Graphite Project in Kasiya”, says Eager.

Mr. Maxwell Kazako has been appointed Acting In-Country Manager following the promotion of Frank Eagar to Managing Director while Ms. Natasha Namisengo has been appointed General Legal Counsel, Mr. Pilirani Bangula as Legal Counsel – Compliance while the Company has also promoted Ms. Tupoche Kayange to Laboratory Manager in line with its employee training and development program.

Eagar says Sovereign understands Kasiya’s significant potential to deliver material and long-lasting social and economic benefits for Malawi, including fiscal returns, job creation, skills transfer, and sustainable community development initiatives.

He says: “Sovereign also recognizes the importance of training programs to enhance the capabilities of its employees. The Company has structured training and skills transfer programs, covering on-the-job training for full-time employees and programs for local graduates and interns.”

“These appointments and promotions align with the Company’s initial targets, ensuring equal opportunity and fairness in employment.”

Sovereign employs over 80 individuals in Malawi, with at least 30% of the staff being women.

Kasiya’s current mineral resource estimate (MRE) of 1.8 Billion tonnes, at 1.0% rutile and 1.4% graphite, comprises broad and contiguous zones of high-grade rutile and graphite that occur across an area of over 201km2 while the company also recently identified an 8km extension of mineralisation to the south, which remains open along strike and at depth.

Results of the Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) released in late 2023 demonstrated Kasiya’s potential to become the world’s largest rutile producer at an average of 222kt per annum and one of the world’s largest natural graphite producers outside of China at an average of 244kt per annum, based on an initial 25 year life-of-mine (LOM).

The Kasiya PFS indicated compelling economics with a post-tax NPV8 of US$1.6 Billion and a post-tax IRR of 28%. This long-life, multi-generational operation was modelled to initially generate over US$16 Billion of revenue and provide an average annual EBITDA of US$415 Million. The PFS modelling was limited to 25 years with initial Probable Ore Reserves declared of 538Mt, representing only 30% of the total MRE.

Agriculture
Malawi develops agricultural investment proposals
February 16, 2024 / Wahard Betha

The Ministry of Agriculture says it has developed investment proposals on ventures for production of some agricultural commodities following the comprehensive analysis and consultative process conducted in all regions of the country.

Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale announced the development during the National Agriculture Investment Forum which was held in Lilongwe to support the Hand in Hand initiative being championed by the Malawi government in support of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN).

Kawale explained that the investment proposals were presented at a global platform during the Hand in Hand Investment Forum in Rome, Italy, and the proposed investments are in areas  including, rice, banana, dairy, fisheries, and aquaculture value chains.

He said: “The Ministry of Agriculture recognized that for a successful implementation of the initiative, you and I need to take a leading role in mobilizing resources and providing technical support so that we move Malawi to be a wealthy and self-reliant nation.”

“This investment forum is critical to transforming the Agriculture Sector as we answer how to boost the sector’s contribution to economic growth.”

“In searching for solutions, we have always sought answers from various stakeholders to make suitable investments.”

“I therefore urge you to continue with the commitment you have shown so far by being part of the team to transform the agricultural sector.”

Kawale said the agriculture sector remains critical to achieving the better Malawi as stipulated in the national vision, the Malawi 2063 (MW2063).

He said this is consistent with the National Agriculture Policy (NAP) and the National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP), which seek to transform and commercialize the agricultural sector to achieve food, nutrition and income security.

Kawale also stressed on the need for a collaborative approach between the government and the private sector.

“Our agenda today is to empower agriculture sector players to attract sector investment and explore opportunities for capital investments in various value chains developed under the Hand in Hand Initiative (HiHi). The Initiative has provided Malawi with an opportunity to map out investment options,” he said.

In his remarks, FAO-UN Representative in Malawi, George Phiri said their support towards the Hand in Hand Initiative was to ensure that the Malawi is using agricultural technology and sustainable ways of agricultural investment in eradicating hunger.

Phiri also urged investors, both local and international, to pump in more capital in farming to gain more profits as well as employ more labour.

This year’s Agricultural Investment Forum was organized under the theme of ‘Supporting Food Systems Transformation through Informed Agricultural Planning and Investment.’

The Hand in Hand initiative was established to address the food crisis and support the goals of eradicating poverty (SDG1), ending hunger and malnutrition (SDG2), and reducing income inequality (SDG10), by boosting agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development.

Agriculture
Malawi government urged to table sugar industry bill in parliament
November 08, 2023 / Harry Witness Mombanyah

The Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (SUGAM), which is the mother body of smallholder sugarcane farmers, has appealed to the Malawi Government to table the long awaited sugar industry bill in the national assembly

Robert John Dziwani, Chairperson for SUGAM said in a Press Statement that when enacted, the sugarcane industry law will help to bring sanity and fairness to the industry.

Dziwani said: “Malawi is the only sugar producing country in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region that does not have any appropriate laws to govern the sugar industry.”

“This, in our informed and considered view is the cause of all problems that have dogged the industry since independence in 1964 and continues to disadvantage small sugarcane growers up to this date. “.

He revealed that in September 2023, several consultative meetings were held between growers, millers and the government but it is surprising that since then there has been a worrying silence from government on the progress of the tabling of the bill in parliament.

SUGAM was established in the year 2014 and was registered with the government of Malawi in 2018. The Association has over 7,200 registered growers drawn from Salima, Dwangwa, Nkhotakota and Chikwawa. Outgrowers grow sugarcane which is processed into sugar by sugar millers in Dwangwa , Chikwawa and Salima.       

Agriculture
NFAM targets women farmers for export markets
March 01, 2023 / Bester Kayaye

A local umbrella body for pigeon peas farmers, Nandolo Farmers Association of Malawi (NFAM), has called for concerted efforts in empowering women in producing crops that will transform their lives

NFAM chairperson, Susan Chimbayo said crops like pigeon peas have the potential to transform the lives of many rural women in Malawi.

She was speaking on her arrival from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she went to attend the 6th Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA) on the margins of the 36th summit of the African Union.

According to Chimayo, women play a critical role in agriculture, and their empowerment is essential considering that the crop offers high nutritional value, income, and boosts soil fertility..

“NFAM is urging stakeholders to support our efforts to empower women in agriculture and unlock the potential of Nandolo as an export crop.” -She said

She said her organization was moving towards commercial farming, and collective marketing and aggregation of valuable roduce.

“NFAM sees its future in the value addition and processing of Nandolo into various products, creating demand beyond India, its primary consumer” she said

NFAM represents over 10,682 smallholder farmers from 45 cooperatives, of which 7,478 are women and 3,204 are males. The organization aims to equip Nandolo farmers with education and skills that will make them more efficient and facilitate maximum output. It also seeks to create a conducive agricultural operating environment for improved variety, productivity, and profitability.

The EWA initiative targets ten pilot countries, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Morocco, Djibouti, Liberia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Malawi. The initiative has taken various activities since 2012, such as the development of EWA indicators to track progress in empowering women in agriculture, a baseline survey on mapping of initiatives on women and agriculture in Africa, and a case study of initiatives by GIMAC members at the country level.

The EWA initiative also aims to mobilize and engage various stakeholders to increase the capacity of women cooperatives in the pilot countries, as well as key actors and business opportunities. The initiative seeks to increase stakeholders’ awareness and engagement at the national and regional levels, advocating for its success across Africa.

The Event was graced by various African Leaders including: President Sahle-Work Zewde, of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Co-Chair of EWA Dr. Olusegan Obasanjo, Former President of the Republic of Liberia and Co. Chair of EWA, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Malawi’s Former President Dr. Joyce Banda.

Agriculture
Council calls for collaboration to develop Malawi’s cotton industry
October 14, 2022 / Bester Kayaye

The Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) says multi-stakeholder approach is imperative in developing the country’s cotton industry and its associated value chains.

CCM’s chairperson Duncan Warren made the call when the council joined the global community in commemorating World Cotton Day that falls on October 7 under the theme “Weaving a better future for cotton.”

The event provides an impetus for economic development of farmers as well as developing nations and it is celebrated across the globe through events that disseminate knowledge and give assistance to cotton farmers, processors, researchers and all other stakeholders about cotton production and marketing.

Speaking to Mining and Trade Review, Warren hinted that among the key challenges facing the cotton industry in Malawi is inadequate production to meet processing demand which needs efforts from various industry players in improving the situation.

In the 2021/22 season, about 25,000 tonnes of seed cotton was produced in Malawi, down from projected 35,000 tonnes due to climate change related problems such as the early season droughts, and cyclones Anna and Gombe which hit most parts of the country.

Warren pointed out that in an era of growing impacts of climate change, increased cotton production offers hope for a healthier planet as it has a negative carbon footprint and degrades 95% more than polyester in wastewater, helping to keep land and water clean.

He explained: “Cotton is the most abundantly produced natural fiber in the world. In 2019, world natural fiber production reached 34 million tons of which cotton accounted for nearly 80% of the total. More than 103 million tons of textile fibers were consumed in 2019, out of which cotton accounted for 24%”

“Within Malawi, cotton is grown by about 100,000 to 400,000 farming families in more than 15 districts in the country, and in some of the districts, stands in as a proxy food crop through which farmers are assured of both food and income security.”

In 2015 alone, the value of the textiles and garments industry in Malawi was estimated at US$ 410 Million which is about 6% of the GDP. Warren said this signifies one of the potential benefits available from growing and developing the cotton value chain.

 “We have also changed our mode of operations, previously we were using zoning system but we have changed to club system whereby farmers are encouraged to form clubs and cooperatives so that they stand a chance to enter into a contract with a buyer, that arrangement has improved the situation a lot in terms of access to inputs particularly seeds which are expensive and it has also improved marketing,” he said.

In his remarks CEO for Cotton Farmers Association of Malawi (COFA) Synowden Mbalafana hailed CCM for championing several noteworthy developments such as introduction of contract farming and hybrid seeds in the cotton industry that has seen local farmers substantially benefiting from their labour.

Mbalafana said Malawi is among a few countries to introduce Bt cotton, which has raised the seed cotton yield from an average of 800 kg/ha to more than 1,500 kg/ha over the past three years. Potentially, these average yields can further be enhanced through improved husbandry practices to about 3,000-4,000 kg/ha.

He said: “From 2018 when we started working with Cotton Council of Malawi we have registered significant improvements in our cotton farming as we have been introduced to contract farming which has seen closer and stronger links between buyers and farmer groups which has led to phenomenal improvements in loan recovery from a poor 15% to over 90%. It has also enhanced competition among the buyers resulting to increase in farm gate prices of cotton.”

In Malawi, cotton anchors more economic activities from agro-dealerships in pesticides, seeds, fertilizer, sprayers; employment in transportation; oil crushing and animal feeds. Cotton also directly employs more than 322,000 people in production, ginning, spinning and fabric production, garments and textiles industries.

Agriculture
Peacock dangles drought tolerant seeds for Malawian farmers
August 26, 2022 / Joseph Mizimbe

Peacock Seed officials assert that they will continue producing drought tolerant maize (DTM) seed varieties to reduce the impact of climate change.

The officials said, they use technologies that increase the availability of maize grain, even in times of drought. The seed producer officials claimed that the technology they have adopted in seed production has led to income stability among small scale farmers, thus driving the agricultural economy base.

Speaking in an interview withthis reporter, the company’s General Manager Matthews Sikwese, said smallholder farmers are the primary target for Peacock Seed whose aim is complementing government’s efforts of promoting subsidy through Agricultural Wide Sector Approach (ASWaP).

Sikwese said commercial and large scale farmers have currently shown growing interest for Peacock products in various regions of the country and they are doing everything possible to ensure that their products reach most areas. Non-governmental and private organizations dealing in agricultural value chains contribute to their customer base.

“Our purpose is to promote the adoption and use of DTMs to rescue farmers from hunger. We promote our technologies through demonstration plots and field days, mainly targeted at showing the productivity and performance of these products locally,” he explained.

Peacock Seeds certified brands include MH 30 which matures within 110-120 days and produces a slender cob suitable for green consumption. MH 31’s yield potential is up to 10 tons per hectare. The grain is also drought tolerant and resistant to diseases such as Gray Leaf Spot (GLS) and Maize Streak Virus (MSV) and adapts to various attitudes.

“CAP 9001 is another variety the company produces which matures within 110-120 days. The yield potential for the crop is up to 14 tons per hectare. The crop is high drought tolerant, high resistant to diseases such as GLS and MSV and adaptable to various attitudes,” he said.

Another brand the seed manufacturer produces is Peacock 10 which matures between 110-120 days. This variety is sweet when roasted, and its yield potential is up to 240 bags of 50 Kgs per hectare. It’s also high drought tolerant and good for Dambo farming, and high resistant to diseases such as GLS and MVS. 

Kholophethe and Naganga beans, CG7 groundnuts, Cow peas and pigeon peas, Kilombero and Faya rice are the other seed varieties the company manufacturers.

Felix Jumbe, the company’s Managing Director, said they create consumer awareness on their products through Education and Communication materials such as, brochures, fliers, leaflets and banners. 

Jumbe said there has been an increase in demand for their seeds, leading to the company’s sales drastically growing from zero to 54 percent, which he attributed to winter farming most farmers have lately embraced in the country. Peacock Seeds, which received an award in 2015 for being the best producer of improved seed varieties in conjunction with the maize commodity team at National Research Institute, is currently producing and promoting the use of drought tolerant hybrid maize seeds.

Peacock Seeds has for the past five years been producing and marketing the seeds within Malawi.

Agriculture
Quton for improved cotton production in Malawi
August 21, 2022 / Joseph Mizimbe

Cotton farmers have been complaining about poor cotton seed germination, less resistant to disease and are urging companies that produce seed to improve the cotton genetics and technologies as one way of dealing with the problems.

One of Malawi’s cotton seed producers, Quton Limited, says it has heeded to farmers’ complaints and will support modern cotton cultivation practices through provision of extension services and high quality seeds to local farmers so that the country achieves improved cotton production.

Quton Limited’s General Manager John Ackim Lungu made the promise in an exclusive interview with this reporter.

He explains that the company has put in place strategies that allow farmers to access improved cotton genetics and technologies.

“We are committed to bridge the existing gap in terms of technologies available for production of cotton, which is one of the most important cash crops in the country,” he says.

According to Lungu, cotton production directly supports 300,000 families and the revival of the crop as an income generator and a forex earner will have a huge boost to the agrarian community and the nation at large.

The company says it has in place modalities to assist the farming community realize their potential of becoming a bigger scale highly robust enterprise that produces and supplies high quality cotton.

For the past two years, Quton has been attempting to provide relevant extension services to farmers who grow cotton in the country by recruiting and training energetic individuals on cotton agronomy around BGII Bollgard cotton seed who in turn, visit allocated Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) to continuously engage farmers throughout the crop season.

“This extension programme has been in effect for two successive years with over 20 field extension officers on the ground and it includes several other important stakeholders in the industry with farmer at the center,” he says.

So far, the General Manager says the programme has proven to be a success and it will continue.

Quton Limited’s main product is Bollgard (BG) II Hybrid Cotton Seed, which is incorporated with the BG2 technology, a revolutionary solution to the low productivity and Lepidopteran pests of cotton crop.

The variety produces two Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins Cry1 Ac & Cry2 Ab which together manage the key Lepidopteran pest of cotton known as African Bollworm but also provide substantial control of Pink Bollworm and Tobacco Caterpillar.

Lungu touts BGII technology as a highly profitable variety determined by its unique attribute of being a high yielding crop on the output and reduced cost on the inputs.

Meanwhile, the company say it is testing new hybrids in its research programme to improve on variety characteristics beneficial to farmers.

Quton distributes seed brands through Cotton Council, Ginners and directly to the farmers as well.

“While this model of distribution continues, we have also started working with agro-dealers to improve our outreach and cover remaining demand. All we want is to provide farmers with the choice to invest in better seed technology,” he elaborates.

Lungu further says being the only organized cotton seed Company in Malawi brings a lot of responsibility both in actions and results.

“We see ‘quality of seed’ as the key differentiation for us. We set and abide by highest quality standards in terms of packaging, purity, performance and results. And we are dedicated to reach out to the farmers with every agronomy related support required and be there with them to share their success,” he says.

Besides cotton, Quton also produces a variety of vegetable seeds that are tailor-made to local growing conditions and their pledge is to evolve in terms of improving the existing seed technologies and bringing in the new ones.

“We intend to diversify our business by looking into crop seeds that make business sense. We have already introduced ourselves to the vegetable business and would like to increase the presence of our products and our messages. We want farmers in Malawi to see and feel us growing close to them in terms of support and products,” he says.

 Lungu says Quton also wants to exert its uniqueness through planned establishment of robust mechanisms of extension messaging and complaint handling to ensure that they deliver on objectives of taking the cotton industry in the right direction.

Currently, the company says it is working with the Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS) so that the genetics of the seeds they produce should conform to Malawi environment.

Agriculture
STAM in seed awareness campaign
August 08, 2022 / Admin

Knowledge is power and seeing is believing. In a bid to bring awareness to farmers on the performance of different varieties of seeds, local umbrella body of all seed producers in the country Seeds Trade Association of Malawi (STAM) recently organized field days in the Central, Northern and Southern regions of the country.

During the field days, the Association showcased various seed varieties to farmers to enable them appreciate how they perform in respective areas of the country. One of the areas where the event took place was Mikundi Agricultural Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Mchinji District.

Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the field day in Mchinji, STAM secretary general, Nessimu Nyama said the event was critical and beneficial to farmers because it (event) enabled them appreciate how various seed varieties can perform in various parts of the country with diverse climatic conditions, weather, rainfall patterns and soils.

According to Nyama, seed varieties which were used as samples in the project, were obtained from 22 seed companies which are STAM affiliates. He added that the Mchinji event was also aimed at helping farmers to move with time in as far as seed selection is concerned.

“Farmers are wise enough to make their own choices. You know there are issues of climate change that have swept across the globe. So we would like to see farmers moving with time because, they might be trusting seed varieties that cannot cope with the current climate change. As you are aware, the rains are not as prolonged as they used to be. We have short rainy seasons these days. So we are urging farmers to go for varieties that can do well even when the rainy season is short,” Nyama explained.

STAM general secretary therefore encouraged farmers to buy modern seed varieties so that they can realize bumper yields. He also highlighted that quality of seeds is not only crisped in productivity but other aspects as well that include drought tolerance and disease resistance.

Nyama who is also a board member of Africa Seed Trade Association (ASTA), challenged farmers in the country to participate in field days to learn more about hybrid varieties that are performing better than what they used to know.

Quizzed on the fairness of the exercise, Nyama said: “there is no biasness towards any company. We have varieties from all the companies for farmers to choose and there are no company names on the tag, instead code numbers were used to represent names of companies. As an umbrella and nonprofit-making body, we promote all our member companies equally.”

On this point, he applauded government through the ministry of agriculture for introducing the Affordable Input Program (AIP) describing it as one of the channels that STAM uses to convey its technologies to the farmers.

“The program takes huge quantities of maize seeds to the farmers. I would therefore like to ask the government to continue with the program which was modelled in a way that allows participation of companies that trade in seeds. Through this program farmers are also given a wide choice of seeds,” he said.

Nyama said STAM works with government in many fronts and said that the association hopes that the existing partnership between the two parties will continue so that together they can promote and take agriculture to higher levels.

Taking his turn, agricultural extension coordinator for Mikundi Extension Planning Area (EPA), Eliya Denis, said the field day helped farmers to appreciate and select best seed varieties that can do better in their localities.

He said the field day was a welcome development and that his office encourages such activities.

“I understand that Malawi is not spared from climate change. So we emphasize much on demonstrations and also field days for the farmers to select best seeds that can suit a particular area,” he said.

He, however, bemoaned the use of recycled seeds in his area by most farmers, saying the practice negatively affects the volume of their harvests. He also complained that some farmers are duped by some traders who sell to them counterfeit seeds that consequently have a negative bearing on the yields.

“We deal with this practice through advising farmers to use only certified seeds for them to realize higher productivity. There are some traders who sell fake and uncertified seeds to farmers, but I commend government for the job well done in conjunction with STAM to curb the malpractice by putting security features on seed packs to ensure that farmers use certified seeds,” he explained.

One of the farmers who attended the field day, Agatha Siveriyani from Kapalamula Village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Nyoka in the district said, the event was helpful because it was an eye opener to farmers particularly when making decision on the types of seeds they should use in their area.

“In the past, we were just buying seeds without knowing their attributes which consequently affected our yields. The demonstration farm, has helped me to select right seeds and I am expecting more yields this season,” said Siveriyani.

Agriculture
One Acre Fund inputs credit scheme mitigates poor farmers’ plight
August 08, 2022 / Joseph Mizimbe

One of the profound hiccups that prevent local farmers from realizing their dream of creating for themselves heaven on earth through farming is their inability to access high-quality farm inputs. Financial and cash flow constraints exacerbate the situation and for local farmers, getting such inputs on credit has tremendous potential to boost their activities. One Acre Fund is working in Malawi to bridge this very gap.

One Acre Fund has been operational in Africa since 2006 and came to Malawi in 2013. The organization is passionate about alleviating local farmers’ plight and therefore allows them to access farm inputs on credit to ease the hurdles they experience. Currently, One Acre Fund is operating in the southern region of Malawi: Zomba, Machinga, Mulanje, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, and Thyolo districts, serving over 62,000 farmers and is planning to expand to other parts of the country as well so that more farmers can benefit from its credit schemes.

One Acre Fund Client Acquisition Lead, Nandi Bwanali said in order to ensure that farmers benefit from their activities, the organization closely follows up with its clients throughout the year with pieces of trainings. According to her, through One Acre Fund’s service, maize farmers are able to improve their yields by up to 50 percent.

Over and above the provision of farm inputs to farmers on credit, One Acre Fund strives to provide farmers with access to alternative profitable markets through its commercialization program. Bwanali elaborated that One Acre Fund facilitates the sale of harvests from farmers at premium prices: providing them with a cut and dry market.

“We ran a trial where we partnered with private buyers to buy eight (8) metric tons of groundnuts and 136 metric tons of paddy rice in 2021, mostly from Zomba and Machinga rice schemes,” Bwanali said.

In a ploy to serve the marginalized, underserved, and rural-based farmers, One Acre Fund concentrates its credit program only on people in rural areas.

“We welcome competition from other organisations that provide credit to farmers because it means that our farmers get the best, most pocket-friendly product and ever-improving service. We try to set ourselves apart by going a step further to provide training and additional extension advice after we provide the inputs on credit,” she mentioned.

The organisation does not only offer inputs on credit but also delivers them to farmers; thereby making their products easily accessible and affordable. She explained that taking the product to the farmers’ doorstep reduces the time that they invest to acquire the inputs as well as ensures timely access to the high-quality inputs.

On guaranteeing that farmers get genuine fertilizer, One Acre Fund only buys from reputed companies, ensuring that each lot or batch of fertilizer comes with the right quality certificates and lab reports. The organization does not have its own brands of products but procures fertilizers which it sells to farmers from national and global suppliers. The organization abides by the relevant standards set by the Malawi Bureau of Standards in order to ensure that there is good stock management and quality checks so that farmers get the best and most cost-effective products.

“We track each lot down to the site so that we know that no ‘outside’ fertilizer has suddenly entered our supply. One Acre Fund stores all fertilizer centrally and then delivers it directly to farmers, meaning that the fertilizer does not pass through many hands – we maintain the chain of custody very tightly, essentially reducing the chances that any counterfeit fertilizer could enter our chain,” she elaborated.

Bwanali added that the organization has a very engaged client base that is supported by its field officers, all of whom are empowered to call ‘Customer Engagement,’ toll-free number immediately if there are any issues.

“We are proud to say that in eight years of operating in Malawi, we have had almost no cases of fertilizer quality problems. This is also a testament to the established manufacturers and suppliers in the Malawi market, most of whom are Fertiliser Association of Malawi (FAM) members,” Bwanali said.

The organization is thankful to its customers for choosing to buy farm inputs from them, out of the other available players on the market. They plan to reach more farmers and bring more impactful products and services to farmers.

One Acre Fund is a non-governmental organization that aims to serve smallholder farmers through the provision of inputs on credit, agricultural training services, market access services, and the provision of high-value trees. Its sole purpose is to help reduce hunger and poverty in the lives of those it serves and to ensure higher levels of resilience among farmers.