Malawi farmers and processors enjoy increased revenue after C:AVA and IITA training
Farmers and processors in Malawi have registered increased incomes after participating in capacity-building training carried out by the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA2) project under the auspices of IITA, in partnership with Chancellor College.
The training was undertaken as part of the GIZ-funded project on “Promoting Cassava Commercialization for Increased Income, Employment and Food Security’’ between 2017 and 2018. The main objective of the project was to contribute to poverty reduction and economic development in Malawi through the promotion of the commercialization of cassava for increased incomes, employment, and food security.
Market studies conducted by C:AVA2 project showed that market opportunities for processed cassava products existed, including for high-quality cassava flour (HQCF), especially in the confectionery and tomato sauce industries. However, farmers were having challenges in accessing these markets due to a lack of knowledge in business management, quality control, marketing skills, and coordination.
The project assessed farmer groups, processor cooperatives as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and then provided training based on gaps identified. Six groups of farmers and processors (CMRTE, Nsanama Women Cooperative, Tiyanjane Bakery, Mathiya Cassava Cooperative, Mgwirizano Cooperative, LEFORD) and three SMEs (Maloko, BERCA, and Robert Mgumbila) participated in the training.
One of the groups, the Nsanama Women Cooperative comprises over 70 women and is located in Machinga District. The group installed HQCF processing machines, supported by C:AVA and had started benefiting from improved cassava varieties through GIZ Green Innovation programs for further multiplication. The Cassava Commercialization project facilitated training on HQCF processing and quality management, group dynamics and leadership skills, marketing, business management, and product development through end-user demonstrations. In all, 35 members of the group were trained and participated in end-user demonstrations.
The Nsanama Women Cooperative is now able to process HQCF of consistent quality, which has enabled them to access a wider market. Initially, they sold HQCF to rural bakers and users from surrounding locations, especially for mandazi and doughnuts. As many farmers started selling fresh cassava roots to the group, they have had to expand their fields using released high-yielding improved varieties and more farmers joined in the production of cassava, as there was a readily available market for the roots. This enabled the group to expand processing activities and identify additional markets.
Nsanama Cooperative is one of the groups that supply HQCF to JoeClean Tomato Sauce Company in Blantyre. This has injected energy into the group and they are now able to process over 2 tons per month using sun drying operations. They plan to expand operations by installing a hybrid solar dryer to enable them to process even during the rainy season.
This initiative has impacted multiple stakeholders including the farmers who were able to increase their revenue from selling fresh roots to the Nsanama group. Members of the group have also registered increased incomes from selling processed products to various market segments. With the additional income, people have been able to send their children to school, pay for medical services, and buy other household assets, and food requirements.