By Catherine Chimoyo
World Food Programme (WFP) Friday officially handed over six certified warehouses to Smallholder Farmer Cooperatives in Nsalu Village, Lilongwe.
During the handover ceremony, Deputy General Representative of Embassy of Belgium and Government of Flanders, Nikolas Bossher expressed his expectations in highlighting his hopes for the cooperatives in making sure this programme is a success.
“I expect that the small holder farmers devise a good business plan, and have a very good organisation structure to make sure that the cooperatives are governed well and this management will include proper management of warehouses,” he said
Bossher added that the warehouses are aggregation centres that would enable farmers conduct quality checks and help find good markets for their produce.
The Director in the Ministry of Trade, Kalema Sulumba commended the government of Flanders and WFP for the warehouses and pointed out that most of the challenges which small holder farmers face have been dealt with.
She said, “The receipt of these warehouses will help greatly. Malawi as an agricultural country, one of the biggest issues that we face is post harvest management. A lot of produce goes to waste after harvest but if the harvest is managed under these warehouses, this loss would be controlled.”
Sulumba pointed out that the development of finding farmers good market for their produce as they will not be forced into selling at low prices for lack of good storage and selling as cooperatives than for individual farmers will benefit the trade industry and improve food security in Malawi.
Deputy Country Director for WFP, Patrizia Papinutti outlined that this is a part of the five year project that their organization is implementing as one way of assisting people from the most vulnerable communities.-MANA.
She said the programme would help the smallholder farmers become self-reliant, resilient and curb hunger in the process.
“I believe these cooperatives will be able to stand on their own feet as there has been intensive training from our partners. I also hope that whatever proceeds are realized from this are invested so that they can bear more fruit,” Papinutti stressed.
Through Small Holder Agriculture Market Support (SAMS), WFP addresses the challenges that small holder farmers face and these include: post harvest looses, financial management and lack of market access.
In an effort to overcome these challenges, WFP in partnership with the government of Malawi through Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism established the warehouse programme.
The warehouses will among other things, prevent post harvest looses as small holder farmers will have good storage their produce.
This will prevent Smallholder farmers from selling their produce at a low price as they have proper storage for their harvest while awaiting an increase in prices on the market.
In addition, good market will be easily found because farmers will sale their produce on a large scale by selling as cooperatives.
The six warehouses, which represent six small holder farmer cooperatives, have been constructed to promote the Warehouse Receipt System in Malawi in partnership with Agriculture Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE).
The warehouse programme, held under the project: ‘Strengthening Farmer Organisations and Rural Structured Trade Mechanism in Malawi’ underscores WFP’s commitment to achieving zero hunger by supporting farmers to attain food security and has benefitted 60,000 farmers.-Mana