Agri Service Centre
Malawi faces many challenges in trying to modernise farming. Through working with smallholder farmers during our Paprika Project, we identified the following barriers:
- Mechanisation; required to increase efficiency, reduce child labour and encourage young people to farm.
- Irrigation; needs to be sustainable: with low running costs and be well maintained.
- Raw materials; year round supply of the correct variety and of adequate standard.
- Processing facilities; need to be properly-equipped, efficiently run and meet all the relevant food safety standards.
- Market; need for a marketing operation covering branding, packaging, transport and sourcing the markets.
Malawi Fruits is addressing these challenges by building up an Agri-Service Centre. Loureen and Atusaye, pictured above, are the key staff with Atusaye providing overall leadership in Malawi and Loureen managing the Service Centre on a day-to-day basis.
The range of services provided by the Agri Service Centre is growing all the time and eventually will involve:
Farmer training – covering crop husbandry; composting; fish farming training; irrigation management training; “My farm is a business” training & vision building; gender equality, child labour awareness training; health & hygiene training.
- Farm inputs – access to good quality seed & other inputs and loans where appropriate. Bulk buying will ensure best prices for all farm inputs.
- Irrigation maintenance – the Agri Service Centre will maintain all aspects of irrigation schemes including solar equipment.
- Processing factory maintenance – trained service engineers will maintain all equipment.
- Mechanisation – tractor and plough and rotovators will be available to all irrigation schemes and larger projects from the Agri Service Centre and will be maintained by our trained service engineers.
- Transport – provision of transport for inputs to farms and for crops to market.
- Sourcing of markets for crops and therefore advising farmers on crop selection. This will be farming under contract wherever possible.
The Service Centre will be the Hub which provides the range of services needed to sustain all the other work we engage in.
Youth Farming (inspiring young farmers)
20% of the population are aged 15-24 years and there is a great need to create decent youth employment through Agriculture.
With support from the Scottish Government, Malawi Fruits is addressing this issue in partnership with Centre for Youth and Development. The project builds on the experience Malawi Fruits gained through the paprika project; has irrigated land and access to mechanisation as key components; and will have connections to crop processing when the oil factory is ready. In this way, it builds on all the work of Malawi Fruits to date and there are 300 young farmers in the programme.
Use of child labour.
Malawi Fruits is addressing these issues in partnership with Centre for Youth and Development. The project builds on the experience Malawi Fruits gained through the paprika project; has irrigated land and access to mechanisation as key components; and will have connections to crop processing when the oil factory is ready. In this way, it will build on all the work of Malawi Fruits to date.
There are two other crucial elements to this work. These are access to ICT for young farmers and identifying and mentoring budding entrepreneurs among young people. Research in these areas was commissioned in 2017 and, together with Centre for Youth and Development, a Youth Entrepreneurship Pathway proposal has been developed and submitted to the Scottish Government for consideration.
We have identified a need to support young people who have the drive to start and run their own agri-processing business. The economy and environment in Malawi is hostile to business start-ups because of very poor infrastructure and a lack of training in the basic skills.
In November 2017 we selected 22 Malawians from many applicants to take part in 4 day Youth Entrepreneurship Conference. This culminated in each presenting their business idea in a ’Dragons Den’ format. 11 were robust enough to receive mentoring support and have loans from us. Moussa, pictured below, received a loan for this incubator for his quail eggs.