Impact of Gender Action Learning System (GALS) under TRADE Programme
Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme is mainstreaming the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) as a community-led empowerment methodology that uses principles of inclusion to improve income, food and nutrition security of vulnerable people in a gender-equitable way. The method is addressing the power relationships at the root of inequality to meet gender equity and women’s empowerment among smallholder farmers under TRADE Programme. Watch the video below that showcase some of the successes achieved through the household approach under GALS.
IFAD Regional Director Visits Malawi
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) East and Southern Africa Regional Director Sara Mbago-Bhunu was in Malawi from 2nd - 5th October, 2023 to launch the IFAD Malawi country office. During the period, Ms. Sara Mbago-Bhunu visited some TRADE programme sites to appreciate how the programme is contributing to improved sustainable livelihood of rural people in Malawi.
On Tuesday (3rd October,2023),The Deputy Minister for Local Government, Unity and Culture, Hon. Owen Chomanika MP. and the IFAD Regional Director, visited the newly constructed Matope Bridge and Mpemba Milk Bulking Centre in Ntonda EPA, Blantyre, where lives of 780 women under Mpemba Milk Bulking Group is being transformed through Transforming Agriculture Through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme. Currently Mpemba Milk Bulking Group produces about 58 000 litres of milk a month. Below are some pictures showcasing IFAD Regional Director and Deputy Minister for Local Government, Unity and Culture during the field visit.
TRADE Programme Participates in The 2023 Malawi Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization Conference (MAPCC)
In fulfilling its mandate of contributing to improved sustainable livelihoods of rural people in Malawi through “Value Chain commercialisation and resilience of rural poor and smallholder producers”, the Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme participated in the 2023 Malawi Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization Conference (MAPCC) which was held from 30th to 31st August 2023. The conference was organised under the theme "Diversified agricultural value chains for improved trade balances and foreign currency reserves and the event was graced by Minister of Industry and Trade, Hon. Simplex Chithyola, who was the guest of honor. The conference brought together developing partners, farmers, aggregators, input suppliers, financiers, NGOs, and the government. In his speech, Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Simplex Chithyola emphasised that if Malawi is to balance trade or increase foreign currency reserves, then the country cannot leave behind agriculture.
The 2023 MAPCC’s theme was inline to what TRADE is doing, as the programme is supporting rural entrepreneurs, focusing on youths and women to develop and sustain their agribusiness enterprise opportunities and ensuring that commodities are nutrition sensitive. TRADE is expected to achieve the objective through targeted support to smallholder farmers and non-farm actors to benefit from commodity markets, improved access to rural financial services, market and business development services and partnerships with the private sector through the Producer Public Private Partnership (4Ps). Please take a look at the conference in pictures.
TRADE Programme Partakes in The 2023 National Agriculture Fair (NAF)
Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme participated in the 2023 National Agriculture Fair (NAF) that was organized under the theme: Achieving Self-Reliance through Agricultural Commercialization. TRADE Programme's participation at the fair provided a rare opportunity to the farmers to interact with various stakeholders in Malawi's Agri-Food Systems to establish strategic business partnerships that can be conjointly beneficial. Malawi Minister of Agriculture Hon Sam Dalitso Kawale MP. had to visit TRADE Programmes’ pavilion at this year's 19th National Agriculture Fair. During the event TRADE programme showcased various agricultural technologies and innovations that the programme is supporting to enhance value chain commercialisation in Malawi. Please take a look at the fair in pictures.
TRADE Programme Convenes The Honey Stakeholders Meeting
TRADE Programme in coordination with the Malawi Bee Products Association organised a Honey Stakeholders Meeting which was held physically at Cross Roads Hotel in Lilongwe on 2nd June 2023. The meeting brought together beekeepers,aggregators, input suppliers, financiers, NGOs, developing partners and the government. The meeting aimed at improving the quality and quantity of honey production by ensuring that beekeepers have access to adequate inputs, training and extension services; strengthening market access and competitiveness by linking producers to processors and off-takers who can add value and meet the standards and preferences of domestic and export markets; and promoting social and environmental sustainability by encouraging good beekeeping practices, natural resource management and inclusive participation of women and youth. The Bee Products Association of Malawi was set up to facilitate marketing and to enable beekeepers to negotiate better prices for their Honey. Currently TRADE Programme is promoting seven value chains including Honey. TRADE observed a need to empower beekeepers through the provision of grants to enable them procure equipment that will assist them to make bee-keeping an attractive occupation.
TRADE Technical Team Supervises Infrastructure Projects
As part of providing technical backstopping services to the Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme, TRADE Technical Committee visited some of the Programmes’ Sites to track how the infrastructure projects are progressing. The Technical Committee believes that successful implementation of infrastructure projects will constitute an important milestone in TRADE's contribution to the improved sustainable livelihood of rural people in Malawi. Effective coordination judiciously matched with regular monitoring is thus an important element in ensuring a successful completion of the projects with improved efficiency at a recommended speed and achieving the intended quality. TRADE Programme has embarked on construction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, buildings to support commodities and livestock water points that will assist in reducing infrastructure bottlenecks of identified 7 value chains. Currently TRADE Programme has 20 infrastructure sites in Kasungu, Ntchisi, Mchinji, Lilongwe, Dedza, Blantyre and Thyolo. Below are some pictures showing TRADE Technical Team supervising the infrastructure projects.
TRADE Programme Hosts its Second IFAD Supervision Mission
Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme is hosting its second IFAD Mission Team which is in the country to provide support to the Programme Management Unit (PMU), to ensure that the key programme objectives are being met. The team landed in the country on 5th March,2023 and interacted with the PMU on Monday (6th March, 2023) and further visited the District Planning Implementation Support Team (DPIST) for Blantyre District Council on 7th March,2023. The Mission further visited Goliati Milk Bulking Center in Thyolo District to appreciate how farmers are adopting various technologies as part of enhancing Dairy Production. The Mission will proceed to Rumphi and Nkhatabay Districts to appreciate how Honey and Beef FBOs are operating.
TRADE programme is a successor programme of RLEEP and is expected to upscale RLEEP interventions for the first two and half years of its six years’ implementation period in eleven districts (Mchinji, Ntchisi, Dedza, Blantyre, Kasungu, Nkata-Bay, Rumphi, Karonga, Lilongwe Rural, Thyolo and Chitipa) focusing on 7 commodities (groundnuts, soybean, sunflower, Irish potato, dairy, beef and honey). The programme is to contribute to improved sustainable livelihoods of rural people in Malawi through “Value Chain commercialisation and resilience of rural poor and smallholder producers”. Below are some pictures illustrating how the supervision exercise is progressing.
TRADE Programme Commences Construction Works
The development of rural infrastructure plays an essential role in improving rural livelihoods and enhancing sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural production. It is inline to the above statement that TRADE programme is creating an enabling environment for smallholder commercialisation through the infrastructure development initiative. The initiative will assist in reducing infrastructure bottlenecks of identified commodities through the development of: road infrastructure (rehabilitation including drainage, construction of structures and set up of Road Management Clubs); buildings to support commodities (warehouses, Milk Bulking Centres – MBCs –, Livestock/cattle markets and honey storage centres); and livestock water points (homestead/community & livestock drinking points).
TRADE programme through its Infrastructure Management section has been in different sites deploying competitively recruited private contractors (censed by the NCIC) to start constructing and rehabilitating roads and bridges that will improve the rural road network in TRADE programmes’ sites. During the exercise, TRADE programme involved the Department of Public Works, Community Leaders, Members of Parliament and Ward Councilors. TRADE is initially covering 11 districts (Mchinji, Ntchisi, Dedza, Blantyre, Kasungu, Nkata-Bay, Rumphi, Karonga, Lilongwe Rural, Thyolo and Chitipa) focusing on 7 commodities (groundnuts, soybean, sunflower, Irish potato, dairy, beef and honey). Below is the pictorial focus of some of the roads and bridges to be rehabilitated
TRADE Programme Participates in The National Agriculture Content Development Workshop
TRADE Programme in coordination with the National Agriculture Content Development Committee (NACDC) organised a workshop which was held physically at Linde Motel in Mponela from 6th to 8thDecember 2022, to develop agriculture technical messages for the 2022/2023 farming season. TRADE observed that the content of some commodities (beef, dairy, sunflower and honey) being promoted by the programme was not in the national portal. It was against this background that TRADE programme had to push for the content development workshop to add content of the four commodities in the national portal. During the workshop, experts had to review and recommend the content, to ensure that messages being disseminated to farmers through various ICT platforms are technically sound, harmonized, evidence-based, scientifically proven, and farmer-friendly. The workshop brought together experts in the various value chains which include Legumes (g/nuts, soya, sunflower, beans), cereals (maize, rice) livestock, land resource (CSA and Agroforestry) roots and tubers (sweet potatoes, potatoes, cassava), climate change and resilience, irrigation, nutrition. VSL, Cooperatives, marketing, horticulture (ginger, garlic), fish and honey. The experts came from the government, non-governmental organizations, and private sector departments to develop content for the 2022/2023 growing season.
The National Agriculture Content Development Committee (NACDC), was formed by the Ministry of Agriculture, and exists to harmonise efforts by different stakeholders in content development for various ICT based approaches and to control the quality of agricultural content in Malawi by ensuring technical correctness and relevance of the content. The NACDC committee is composed of experts from different Ministry of Agriculture departments and organizations with vested interests in content, ICT platforms and farmer issues. The Ministry of Agriculture through Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES) provides leadership and coordination. The Chairperson of NACDC comes from non-state actors whilst the secretariat is maintained at DAES. Below are some pictures showing experts reviewing and updating the agriculture content for the 2022/2023 farming season.
TRADE and FARMSE Programmes Met in an Experience-Sharing Workshop
An experience-sharing workshop was held in Mangochi, on 7th, December, 2022, to showcase the achievements and lessons learnt under TRADE and FARMSE-IFAD supported Programmes in Malawi. The workshop showcased the challenges, achievements and lessons learnt under the two programmes, and demonstrated workable models, approaches and strategies for TRADE Programme to adopt.
Mr. Dixon Ngwende the National Programme Coordinator for FARMSE inaugurated the workshop, which was attended by The National Programme Coordinator for TRADE, Dr Felix Lombe and Officials from both FARMSE and TRADE Programmes.
Mr. Dixon Ngwende and Dr Felix Lombe, stressed the need for better coordination at grass-roots level, better capacity building and advocated for replicating of technical cooperation in the two programmes. The two National Programme Coordinators acknowledged that experience sharing in the two programmes will significantly change and strengthened development initiatives as well as improving officers’ capacities. Below are some pictures illustrating FARMSE key senior officers presenting during the workshop.
TRADE Programme is at the 18th National Agriculture Fair
Transforming Agriculture Through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme together with its various partners are at the 18th National Agriculture Fair, Chichiri Trade Fair Ground in Blantyre showcasing its various interventions in different agricultural value chains in the quest to contribute to improved sustainable livelihoods of rural people. Below are some pictures of pavilions that have been mounted to display various products produced by Smallholder farmers who are directly involved in various TRADE programmes' interventions.
TRADE Programme’s NPC meets OPEC Fund DG
The Director General of OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)Abdulhamid Al-Khalifa, was in the country between 31st March and 1stApril to sign some additional Financing Agreements with the Malawi Government.During the visit, TRADE Programme’s National Coordinator, Felix Lombe paid a courtesy call to the Director General at Capital Hotel. The courtesy call was aimed at briefing the Director General of TRADE Programme’s preparedness towards infrastructure component roll-out. TRADE Programme’s infrastructure component is funded by OFID to the tune of $20 Million. Through the OFID funding, TRADE Programme will provide value chain development support infrastructure such as roads, bridges commodity storagefacilities, water points and commodity market centers. The infrastructure will be provided in areas where the programme is promoting the seven targeted valuechains namely Beef, Dairy, Sunflower, Groundnuts, Soybean, Honey and Irish Potato) in all the eleven districts of Blantyre,Lilongwe, Ntchisi, Mchinji, Dedza, Nkhatabay, Rumphi, Karonga, Thyolo, Kasungu and Chitipa. It is expected that the infrastructure to be constructed andrehabilitated will enhance value chain commercialisation among smallholder farmers in rural areas of Malawi.
During the brief discussion, the OFID boss reiteratedhis organization’s commitment towards promoting rural development in Malawithrough support towards sustainable infrastructure and good networks. Heexpressed optimism that TRADE Programme will live-up to the expected deliverable. He touted the OFID- IFAD syndicated loan arrangement in TRADE Programme as one of the most successful funding models that have yieldedmassive results in Africa and Asia.
In his remarks, TRADEProgramme’s NPC assured the DG of his institution’s preparedness towards aspeedy and smooth roll-out of the infrastructure component under TRADE. Earlier in the day, the NPCmet the Southern and Eastern Africa OFID Manager Bah Aly Bah who wanted toappreciate the state of TRADE Programme’s preparedness. The two agreed to speed-up completion ofinitial processes aimed at rolling-out the infrastructure component.
Besides TRADE Programme, OFID is set to support 67-million-dollar water projects towards Dowa Town Water andSanitation Project and a feasibility studies for the new Mzuzu Airport. OPECFund Director-General, Al-Khalifa Salem, said the agreement will aid Malawi to provide potable water and boost tourism sector hence appealed to implementing agencies to stick to designs during the implementation stages of the two projects. Opec Fund has committed K14 billion as a soft loan for Dowa TownWater and Sanitation Project and about K600 million grant for the Mzuzu Airportfeasibility study.
District Desk Officers for TRADE Programme Oriented
As part of ensuring coordination of efforts among all focal players, TRADE programme requested each target District Council to provide a Desk Officer to its Programme Management Unit (PMU). TRADE programme is aiming at achieving effective implementation of its interventions that requires a clear definition of operational framework. To this end, the PMU organised a One-Day orientation that aimed at orienting the Desk Officers to understand their roles and responsibilities. The meeting was held on 28th April, 2022 at Linde Motel in Mponera, Dowa.
At District level, Desk Officers will serve as TRADE Programme's focal points and will work in collaboration with the District Planning and Implementation Support Teams (DPIST). The Desk officers will among others enhance adequate mobilization and publicity of TRADE programme interventions, as well as monitoring the implementation of all activities at district level.
Kombeza Foods Visited by IFAD Supervision Team and TRADE Programme Management Unit
On Friday (8th July, 2022) TRADE Programme Management Unit together with the IFAD Supervision Team visited Kombeza Foods in Blantyre, a dairy processing company in Malawi. The team interacted with Mdingase Tewete, the Managing Director of Kombeza Foods, as part of strengthening linkages between smallholder farmers and dairy commodity actors for productivity enhancement and commercialization. Mdingase Tewete stressed that very few dairy smallholder producers in Malawi are producing quality milk and she is happy that one of TRADE programmes’ key outcomes is to increase smallholder producers’ productivity and product quality. Mdingase emphasised that sometimes the quality of the milk supplied to Kombeza Foods affects their production, to the extent of discarding a lot of product that do not come out accurately.
TRADE Programme is aiming at building capacity for the commercially focused dairy smallholder farmers. The Programme will work closely with specialised service providers with experience in the livestock sector in Malawi. The livestock training among others will cover the following key topics: Feeding and fodder production & preparation including supplementary feeding techniques; Climate resilient housing; Reproduction & health; Keeping, milking and young stock raising; Farm management and controlling; and Hygiene & quality of milk and farm economics.
Private Sector Anxious for ACIF
Transforming Agriculture through Diversification andEntrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme designput private sector expansion squarely at the heart of its programme to Increase Value Chain commercialisation andresilience of rural poor and smallholder’s producers. TRADEProgramme’s commitment is to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperitythat will finally create an enabling environment for smallholder commercialisation among rural people.
TRADE Programme among other models will promoteagricultural and agribusiness commercialization through a closer andsustainable private sector engagement to foster national and international market linkages with producers. To achieve this, TRADE will provide grants to accelerate agriculture commercialisation among smallholder farmers through promotion of models that facilitate sustainable producer-private partnerships and foster an enabling environment for smallholder commercialization. In attaining these outcomes, TRADE will engagethe services of non-state actors, state agencies and private sector throughgrant arrangement and non-grants arrangement (collaboration). The grant arrangement will beexecuted through the Agriculture Commercialization Innovation Fund (ACIF) that has windows and processes to accommodate the private sector players accordingly.
TRADEProgramme has a large matching grants window that will be open to mediumand large-scale private agribusinesses to increase the profitability andsustainability of small scale farmers, farmer groups and rural SMEs.Private sector players engaged in largescale business, will have to match the grant either in kind, cash, or a combination of both, with a maximum contribution from TRADE of 60%. The aim is to support inclusive and innovative investments partnerships (including 4P) by medium and large-scale private agribusinesses that increase the profitability and sustainability of small scale farmers, farmer groups and rural SMEs. TRADE Programme is positioned to support agribusinesses / agro processors investments to procure processing and packing equipment like: washer, dryer, heater, press, scalable storage and cooling equipment.; it will also support capacity building costs for the Producer Public Private (4P) partners, as well as investments to support organising producers and other commodity actors. For this reason, TRADE programme hasalready consulted some of the prospective private sector players that can be supportedupon conceptualising their idea inline with TRADE programme’s interventions.
Among the SME players who have been consulted is Nyama World a fast growing firm which has been in the livestock and meat industry since 2009. Thebackbone for Nyama World has been support and supply of raw material from smallholder livestock farmers. According to Nyama World, their relationship with smallholder farmers has a solid concrete base with a bright future but requires smallholder livestock farmers to be supported with grants to enable them have a sustainable commercial base in order to earn well, grow and become truly self sustainable.
NyamaWorld also got fund from RLEEP and has been involved in beef cattle geneticsupgrade since 2015 and have reached a total number of 11/000 smallholder farmers. Nyama World have welcomed ACIF as an initiative that will help them continue supporting smallholder livestock farmers to adopt the improved livestock breeding technologies. The other prospective private sector player is Mach Milk Company Limited, which hasinvested in milk powder production and has rolled out its operations in Mpemba, Blantyre. Mach Milk Company have welcomed ACIF as an initiative that will make the firm achieve its goal of boosting the welfare of local dairy farmers through the creation of readily available market of these rural dairy farmers from Thyolo, Blantyre and Chiradzulu Districts.
TRADE Programme Hosts IFAD Supervision Mission
Knowledge Management and Communications
Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme is hosting an IFAD Mission Team which is in the country to provide support to the Programme Management Unit(PMU), to ensure that the key programme objectives are being met. The team landed in the country on 3rd July,2022 and interacted with the PMU on Monday (4th July, 2022) and further visited the District Planning Implementation Support Team (DPIST) for Mchinji District Council on 5th July,2022. While in Mchinji the Mission interacted with two existing Farmer Based organisations (FBOs) that were established by the Rural Livelihood Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP), (Mkhunguyembe Cooperative and Kakuyu Farmer Business Schools) in Mkanda EPA to appreciate how these FBOs are progressing.
The Mission will proceed to Blantyre and Thyolo Districts to appreciate how Milk Bulking Centers established by RLEEP are operating. TRADE programme is a successor programme of RLEEP and is expected to upscale RLEEP interventions for the first two and half years of its six years’ implementation period in eleven districts (Mchinji, Ntchisi, Dedza, Blantyre, Kasungu, Nkata-Bay, Rumphi, Karonga, Lilongwe Rural, Thyolo and Chitipa) focusing on 7 commodities (groundnuts, soybean, sunflower, Irish potato, dairy, beef and honey). The programme is to contribute to improved sustainable livelihoods of rural people in Malawi through “Value Chain commercialisation and resilience of rural poor and smallholder producers”.
IFAD Supervision Mission Visits Milk Bulking Groups in Blantyre and Thyolo
Knowledge Management and Communications
TRADE Programme Management Unit together with the IFAD Supervision Mission were in Blantyre and Thyolo Districts today, (7th July, 2022) to appreciate how Milk Bulking Centers established by RLEEP are operating. The first Milk Bulking Group (MBG) to be visited was Mpemba MBG in Ntonda EPA in Blantyre, where farmers demonstrated how they test milk to find out, if it is sour or has been mixed with sodium bicarbonate. Whilst in Mpemba, the PMU and the IFAD Support Team visited MACH Milk Powder manufacturer to understand the commercial partnership which is there between smallholder milk producers and MACH Powder manufacturer as an off taker.
In the Afternoon, the team visited Mpeni Milk Bulking Group in Dwale EPA in Thyolo to plan how best Mpeni MBG can be revamped. RLEEP constructed a Milk Bulking Facility which has been nonfunctional since 2015, due to lack of electricity and other cooling equipment. TRADE Programme being a successor of RLEEP programme will rehabilitate the storage facility and ensure that smallholder farmers from Mpeni Milk Bulking Group start using the facility accordingly.
TRADE Programme Steering Committee (PSC) Meet
TRADE Programme Steering Committee (PSC) first meeting took place on, Wednesday 20th April, 2022 at Sunbird Hotel in Salima. TRADE Programme’s overall governance is under the oversight of Programme Steering Committee which is headed by the Principal Secretary for Local Government, which happens to be the lead agency for the Programme. The membership of the PSC is drawn from different programme’s partners that includes officials from different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Non-Governmental Organisations, Private Sector and other Value Chains players.
Grant Review Committee Inducted
Knowledge Management and Communications
Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme on 28th June,2022 conducted a meeting where the Grant Review Committee (GRC) was oriented the on its Terms of References (ToRs). This is a committee with qualified members, selected based on the merit basis of their expertise in agribusiness, business economics, business management, financial management, entrepreneurship, and two PMU staff (TRADE Value Chain Specialist and ACIF Grant Manager) to review TRADE Grant applications & claims and recommend for their approval. TRADE Programme will use the Grants Review Committee (GRC) to promote transparency, objectivity and independence in the review.