When the members of the Technical Review Panel gathered in Arusha, Tanzania to discuss the data and the progress of Purchase for Progress (P4P), they also touched base with farmers participating in the pilot. One of the farmers visited was Angela Marko Malle, who explains where her cooperative has come from, and where they want to go.
Until 3 years ago, the farmers of Slahamo, a small village in northern Tanzania, could only rely on their own resources for their agricultural activities. Living some 150 kilometers west of Arusha, they faced huge difficulties in accessing inputs and financial services, and reaching profitable markets for their produce. Even the district council’s warehouse that had been built in the 1970’s was largely abandoned.
In 2009, Angela Marko Malle and 241 other farmers decided to work together and develop their agricultural activities, and founded the “Mbulumbulu Umoja Savings and Credit Cooperative”. Their initial capital was limited, but with the support of the P4P pilot, the group was quickly able to increase the scale of their activities.
WFP helped rehabilitate the 300 ton village warehouse and provided key post-harvest and grading equipment (a stitching machine, tarpaulins, fumigation sheets, a moisture meter, a weighing scale and grain sampling tools) on a cost-sharing basis, with both the cooperative and the district council contributing to the costs. With the support of local partners such as Rural and Urban Development Initiatives (RUDI) and Faida Mali, P4P offered a comprehensive set of Training of Trainers (ToT) trainings aimed at farmer leaders.
As a result, the Mbulumbulu cooperative was able to increase the quality of their production, aggregate maize from its members and sell to WFP. Their bargaining position has largely improved thanks to the trainings they received and the improved quality of their produce, and they have been able to sell to other buyers besides WFP: Traders from Kenya for example crossed the border during the drought at the Horn of Africa in and bought maize from the cooperative.
In addition, new jobs have been created for both women and men, particularly in the post-harvest activities. The membership of the group rapidly increased to 439 over the course of three years, with 35% being female farmers.
Even though she only owns three acres, Angela is now able to sell her produce on markets and benefit from a premium paid for her quality maize. She supplied 1,000 kg of maize to her cooperative in 2010 and 500 kg in 2011 for selling to WFP. But this not the only benefit she sees in P4P: “The benefits of P4P go beyond the extra money I’m earning, it is mainly the knowledge that I am acquiring. Thanks to the trainings, I have learned to increase quality, better store my maize and avoid post-harvest losses, to keep records and to work together with the other members of our group.”
The Mbulumbulu cooperative nevertheless still faces major challenges. It is vulnerable to external shocks such as unreliable weather conditions and the total capital of the group is still inadequate to meet the demand of all its members. Access to inputs and finance remain limited. The members of Mbulumbulu are therefore eager to continue engaging with P4P. The group aims to extend the capacity of their office and use new technologies to facilitate financial activities, such as mobile phone payments. Furthermore, the group is investigating the rehabilitation of additional warehouses in other villages.
Much remains for Angela and her fellow farmers to do, but she remains positive: “P4P has given me confidence. With my farming income, I now want to finance the secondary education of my four children and would like to take up a loan to invest in my production. ”
Read more about the TRP 2012 here: What is the evidence telling us about the progress of P4P?