Co-ops in Malawi have expanded and prospered since receiving a cash boost from the African Development Bank.
The Competitiveness and Job Creation Support Project was backed by the bank, which gave the Malawi government $14m in 2011 to boost the capacity of the private sector.
Co-operatives also received support from the project, including 3,500 farmers. Sophie Katulukira is the director of the Tithokoze farm in Lilongwe, whose business has expanded with the acquisition of 10 greenhouses, thanks to the support of the project. She produces farm fresh organic vegetables for local supermarkets.
“This project has really assisted us to have more markets. We can now grow more quality products throughout the year. The markets know they can rely on us to get the best products,” she said.
The project also supported the construction of 23 co-operative warehouses across Malawi. In Mulanje, a town of around 21,000 inhabitants in the country’s southern region, the Namulenga co-operative has seen its membership increase after the construction of a warehouse.
The co-op’s members now number 350, compared with 77 in 2011. Thanks to this facility, farmers can store and aggregate their products, allowing them to negotiate better prices with expanded market access.
In addition to helping boost co-operative membership, the scheme provided pulse farmers with inputs and training, resulting in an increase in pigeon pea export from 220,000 tonnes in 2010 to 516,941 tonnes in 2017.