Originally published on October 9, 2014.
In Malawi’s Nkhotakota District, the Lipimbi Water Users Association once struggled under a weak leadership structure, without a clear vision or goals. Launched in 2007 by the Government of Malawi, this 26-member group started with hopes of improving their rice production and increasing sales, but without any formal training in business management or marketing, their dreams failed to come to fruition.
In 2011, Land O’Lakes International Development began a four-year Food for Progress (FFP) program, which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program provides governance, business and marketing training to groups like Lipimbi, which enables them to see farming as a business, and not just as a source of food.
Our irrigation scheme is now upgraded. We have also been trained in different aspects of business and marketing including governance, business planning, record keeping and marketing.
Lipimbi’s farmers participated in training sessions based on AgPro
, which Land O’Lakes developed under the Cooperative Development Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). AgPro
is a training tool that strengthens the efficacy, as well as the organizational and financial management, of farmer-owned producer groups and cooperatives. The training encouraged the group to start marketing rice collectively in 2012. The group also now boasts a 63-strong membership, of which 23 are women, including 10 who are Executive Committee members.
Land O’Lakes also upgraded the rice fields with irrigation pipes and canals, which have helped the group maximize 14 hectares of land compared to the previous seven hectares they were using before. Such infrastructure improvements have enabled Lipimbi to harvest 100-150 metric tons of rice, an increase of nearly 200 percent.
“We are thankful to Land O’Lakes for the good work they have done,” said Lipimbi’s Chairperson, Frank Mpozela. “Our irrigation scheme is now upgraded. We have also been trained in different aspects of business and marketing including governance, business planning, record keeping and marketing.” In 2012, the program linked Lipimbi’s farmers to the National Smallholder Farmer’s Association (NASFAM), where they sold 145 bags of rice. Land O’Lakes also recently linked them to another potential rice buyer, Mkolola Holdings, in 2013.
Through this USDA program, Land O’Lakes will train over 200 farmer associations in AgPro
, which will increase production and revenue, and help improve food security and nutrition for farming families in Nkhotakota and Salima Districts.