ACE DATES MCHINJI FARMERS

 By Frank kadzakumanja

 

Since the Government of Malawi has elevated agriculture and nutrition as key national policy priorities to improve the economy, ACE continues to implement a holistic approach to Agricultural Marketing program under the Integrating Nutrition into Value Chain (INVC) program to harness Malawi's agriculture potential by linking farmers to better markets.   With most of the Malawi's' population engaging in agriculture, its imperative to market grain so that small scale farmers reap the benefits of better prices from better markets. As Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ACE) continues to reach out to more farmers, sensitization meetings were conducted in Mchinji which is 109 km from the Capital City of Lilongwe and 12 km from the Zambian Border.  

    Stressing A Point   ACE's Partnerships and Training Manager, E.Chamgwera addressing the gathered    crowd                                                                                                                                                    

     IMAG2185Women listening to a presentation by an ACE official 

                                                                     

                                                   

The sensitizations were conducted from the 18th to 20th September this year at manthula, chimosola, kamlilika, mphalabungu, mpachika and nkhwazi area. Meetings involved world vision officials and government field officers. Discussions focused on ACE's three components, namely trade facilitation, market information system and the warehouse receipt system (WRS). Farmers were delighted to learn that ACE links farmers to better markets and that they can also have access to finance when they store their commodity in an ACE certified warehouse. Many small scale farmers expressed ignorance on market prices and after the meetings; they were very excited to learn that ACE sends market price information about commodities of their choice when they register their mobile numbers.

Speaking on the closing day of the meetings, Mr Yafet Kanyinji who is Development Facilitator for Word Vision international in Likasi hailed ACE for the initiative. "The meeting that we had with farmers generated issues to do with collective marketing and benefits of professional storage, I know that after the meetings, farmers are now more aware of what to do after harvest," he said.

Mchinji being one of the areas that produces Mchinji being one of the areas that produces maize grain in bulk, ACE is already working with two Kulima Gold Deposit points and plans to open a warehouse. Speaking on behalf of ACE, The partnerships and Training manager for ACE, Miss Edna Changwera said that now is the time for farmers to start taking farming as a business. "We at Ace are there to link you farmers to better markets and professional storage which gives you access to finance, most farmers get ripped off by traders who buy at low prices and later sell to up markets at higher prices, at the end you will note that it is the farmer who suffers most." She said.

 

In Malawi, high population density and growth, along with a single rainy season per year with little use of irrigation, pose a distinctive set of challenges that make Malawi's agricultural growth precarious and make it chronically susceptible to food insecurity. It is for this reason that ACE is committed to promoting the Warehouse receipt system (WRS) and is also facilitating fair trade so that farmers benefit more at the end of the value chain. This roundly successful experience has set a precedent for cooperation among farmers, traders as well as banks to push Malawi further in terms of economic development.