A group of Farmers under the INVEST COOP project which is being implemented by the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), went to Salima on an exchange visit to appreciate what their fellow farmers are doing under the Malawi Lake Basin Programme (MLBP).
The farmers were from Dowa, Mchinji and Lilongwe and they visited two cooperatives namely Tisekele and Nsangu.
The Malawi Lake Basin Programme is currently being implemented in Salima and Mangochi under a consortium of five organisations namely We Effect, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), NASFAM, MUSCCO and Vi Agroforestry.
The exchange visit was organised with the aim of
assisting the visitors learn how cooperatives are organised so that they can strengthen their own cooperatives.
At Tisekele Cooperative situated in Traditional Authority Kalonga, Mbalame Village, the visitors learnt of how the host’s determination and patience paid off.
“Through the cooperative we managed to buy a maize mill at K1.2 million. Though the maize mill is currently grounded but we are proud of the achieved success. We are working on having the maize mill fixed,” said Tisekele Cooperative Secretary Jonas Marichi adding that;
“We started working with MLBP in 2008. We started with four clubs which had 58 members. Then we were trained on how to multiply harvest. Our first crop was sorghum. From the 12 acres of land we harvested 9380kgs,” he explained.
Marichi said they had started with a village bank to keep their money and that gradually they migrated into a cooperative.
He said currently the cooperative has 102 farmers who own shares with each share costing K5000.
Sharing their vision Tisekelesi’s Loveness Matchado who joined the cooperative in 2011 said they are aiming high and that nothing will stop them.
“It is not a smooth journey but we are determined to move forward. We will buy a car soon. We don’t have a warehouse and we want to construct one,” she said.
Matchado adds that apart from registering some success as a cooperative, individually all members have had their lives improved.
“I am a single mum of five children but I have managed to construct a house, which I plan to roof this planting season,” she said.
Tisekele Cooperate Chairperson and Advisor Champion Dokotala said their secret is that they work together, share responsibilities and that each member is encouraged to farm as an individual but they come together to search for markets and stole their produce.
From Tisekele, the visiting farmers went to Msangu cooperative where they also had a mind-blowing experience.
At Msangu they were told how the cooperative got involved in oil manufacturing some years ago before the equipment broke down.
At the time of the visit the cooperative had maize worthy K18 million.
BY TIONGE KAMPONDENI