USAID Support Boosts Income For Malawian Farmers

Using a contribution from USAID specifically for local maize purchase, WFP purchased 30 metric tons of maize directly from the Chigonthi Farmers Organization in mid-2016 which it then delivered to food-insecure households as part of its current relief response. 

In April 2016, it was time for most Malawians to harvest their crops. Abel Mwase, a lead farmer in Lilongwe district, fared better than most Malawian farmers by producing over 300 bags of maize, some of which he has been able to sell for a profit.

This came after an extremely difficult growing season characterized by El Niño-induced drought, which left most farmers countrywide with failed harvests and little to no food for the year. These challenging circumstances resulted in around 40 percent of Malawians facing food insecurity this year with the most difficult months still ahead.

Abel, who is supported by the World Food Programme’s Purchase For Progress (P4P) initiative, is a founding member of the Chigonthi Farmer Organisation, which currently consists of 99 members. Through P4P, Chigonthi farmers have benefitted from WFP trainings on post-harvest management, market and cooperative management, as well as from partner-led trainings on conservation agriculture.

“This year I applied compost manure which I think conserved moisture in the soil. This helped me to grow more than most during the past growing season, which was very difficult due to lack of rains,” said Abel.

Prior to his involvement with the cooperative, Abel lacked access to proper storage facilities. Now using methods learned through P4P trainings, he is able to store surplus commodities safely in a warehouse originally supported by FAO and handed over for management by P4P-supported farmers in 2013.  

Since the group’s establishment, the food security situation of the members has seen great improvement with many of the farmers experiencing surplus harvests.

P4P also increases market opportunities for supported farmers, in part through WFP’s direct purchase from supported farmers. At the onset of its current relief response, WFP looked to Farmer Organizations like Chigonthi to source some of the response’s maize requirements in June and July. This helped ensure availability of commodities for distribution at the exceptionally early start of the response in July.

Of the 300 plus bags he harvested this past year, Abel put aside 100 bags of maize for storage in the farmer organization’s warehouse. Using a contribution from USAID specifically for local maize purchase, WFP purchased 30 mt of maize directly from the Chigonthi Farmer Organization in July, which it then delivered to food insecure households as part of its current relief response.

“I was able to supply 90 bags to WFP under this sale,” explained Abel. “I have used the money I made to purchase farming inputs including chicken manure to apply on the crops I have planted for this season.”  

WFP and USAID require high quality standards of commodities, which farmers in the Chigonthi Farmer Organisation were able to meet this year in part due to skills learned through P4P. Competitive prices are offered in exchange for quality commodities, which further incentives investment and increased production among Malawian farmers. Abel has also sold over 200 bags of maize to the Government of Malawi’s National Food Reserve Agency, further increasing his post-harvest profit.  Continuing to build on the skills and support provided by WFP, Abel and other WFP-supported farmers hope to increase production and sell to WFP and other competitive buyers in future years.