Lilongwe, World Food Program (WFP) on Friday officially handed over six certified warehouses to smallholder farmer cooperatives in Nsalu Village, Lilongwe.
Through Smallholder Agriculture Market Support (SAMS), WFP addresses the challenges that smallholder farmers face and these include: post-harvest losses, financial management and lack of market access. In an effort to overcome these challenges, WFP in partnership with the government of Malawi through Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism (MoIT and T) established the warehouse program.
The six warehouses, which represent six smallholder farmer cooperatives, have been constructed to promote the Warehouse Receipt System in Malawi in partnership with Agriculture Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE).
Speaking at the handover ceremony The Deputy General Representative of Embassy of Belgium and Government of Flanders, Nikolas Bossher highlighted his hopes for the cooperatives in making sure this program is a success.
I expect that the smallholder farmers devise a good business plan, and have a very good organisation structure to make sure that the cooperatives are governed well and this management will include proper management of warehouses, Bossher said.
He added that the warehouses are aggregation centres that will enable farmers conduct quality checks and help find good markets for their produce.
Director in the MoIT and T, Kawila Kalema Sulumba, commended the government of Flanders and WFP for the warehouses pointing out that most of the challenges which smallholder farmers face have been dealt with.
She said: The receipt of these warehouses will help greatly. Malawi as an agricultural country, one of the biggest issues that we face is post-harvest management. A lot of produce goes to waste after harvest but if the harvest is managed under these warehouses, this loss would be controlled.
She also pointed out that the development of finding farmers good market for their produce as they will not be forced into selling at low prices for lack of good storage and selling as cooperatives than for individual farmers will benefit the trade industry and improve food security in Malawi.
Deputy Country Director for WFP, Patrizia Papinutti outlined that this is part of a five year project that their organization is implementing as one way of assisting people from the most vulnerable communities. He said this program will help the smallholder farmers become self-reliant, resilient and curb hunger in the process.
I believe these cooperatives will be able to stand on their own feet as there has been intensive training from our partners. I also hope that whatever proceeds are realized from this are invested so that they can bear more fruit, Papinutti stressed.
The warehouse program, held under the project: ‘Strengthening Farmer Organisations and Rural Structured Trade Mechanism in Malawi’ underscores WFP’s commitment to achieving zero hunger by supporting farmers to attain food security and has benefitted 60,000 farmers.
Source: MANA Online