Mrs. Dinnah Rhissie Kapiza is the sole proprietor and managing director of Tisaiwale Agro Trading Company Ltd based in Mponela, Dowa District, central region of Malawi. Tisaiwale Agro Trading Company Ltd is an input and output distribution business incorporated under the Companies Act of the Laws of Malawi in 2002. The business was re-incorporated as a limited company in 2015 in order to cope with the growing business interests and corporate challenges. Mrs. Kapiza operates her business at Mponela as the main base, Dzaleka and Kasese satellite shops, serving famers in Dowa and Ntchisi Districts. She mostly serves small-scale farmers, mostly growing food crops – maize, legumes and vegetables mostly for subsistence and minimal income.
“The Hub and spoke model concept implemented by AFAP has enabled us to build business networks that have greatly reduced the distance which farmers have to travel to access improved agricultural inputs and output markets, the demonstration plots and field days are a great learning tool for us Agrodealers to showcase the best agronomic practices.”
Says Mrs. Dinnah Kapiza
Through AFAP’s intervention, Tisaiwale Agro has been trained on business management, has been able to recruit one (1) Extension Agent, increased the number of its retailer network from 6 to 18; worked with 21 lead farmers, established 37 demonstration plots used for farmer trainings on best agronomic practices in the district.
Mrs. Dinnah business exploits and successes has been recognized widely and has also been featured in various websites; AGRA, AFAP, IFDC, YARGUS, Think Tank Market Matters.
Mrs. Dinnah is one of the pioneers of Agrodealer businesses in Malawi, with a track record in this field of over 18 years. In 2011, she was awarded the “AFRICAN AGRIBUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD” for outstanding business achievement in agricultural inputs in Africa.
The Effects of COVID-19 on Tisaiwale K Agro-Trading
Despite Tisaiwale K. being a household name for farmers in Dowa and Ntchisi districts, the COVID-19 has greatly affected the business performance and operations:
- Shops Deserted: Reduced number of farmers to the shop due to fear of contracting the disease through exposure, thus stayed locked up at home, this reduced the sales of inputs. This in itself has resulted in fewer sales and low on the counter advice to farmers. Huge capital is tied up in inputs which are not moving as expected.
- Farmers assumed lockdown meant people moving around to only access health services as an essential service thus deemed access to agricultural inputs as non-essential services.
- Banning of Social Gatherings: The ban of large gatherings affected the extension services offered by the They could not conduct field days which was critical since the farmers had not completed the exposure to all agronomic best practices as required.
- Cob Maturity and Postharvest: The lockdown announcement came at the time when the farmers were preparing to harvest. They were forced to harvest before the crop had properly dried for storage. This resulted in denying the farmers some of the useful knowledge such as treating maize and other crops from postharvest losses. Generally postharvest losses in Malawi register up to 40% and we anticipate that this year it might even go up further because most of our farmers missed this opportunity to be trained in minimizing postharvest losses. Post-harvest losses are expected since they will have to dry the harvest at home for storage.
- Farmers Buying: The lockdown meant the farmers could not go and buy the required agricultural inputs especially crop protection products for treating the harvest before storage.
- The newly renovated warehouse is empty with no inputs or produce in stock, since most farmers sold their maize early through vendors when it was not properly dried
- Lockdown: It was just not Mrs. Dinnah’s business being affected, but the farmers were also greatly affected, farmers were also affected.
It was just not Mrs. Dinnah’s business being affected, but the farmers were also greatly affected.
Mr. Harriden Wakitala Says
“Due to the movement restriction imposed by government, I was unable to go to Mponela to buy “Shumba” a crop protection product for treating my maize because transport costs had gone up tremendously. Worse off, despite the Government partially lifting the ban I do not have money to buy “Shumba”. I grow maize, legumes and vegetables. In February 2020, through irrigation I grew vegetables with the expectation of getting an income from it, unfortunately this pandemic has led to my major buyer – Linde Hotel here in Mponela, closing. This has forced me to sell the vegetables, which are also highly perishable at throw away price.
Dinnah concludes narrating her story by saying, a lot of business has been lost, sales are stagnant with a lot of capital tied up in inputs; my newly renovated warehouse is empty with no produce in stock, most farmers sold their maize early through vendors when it was not properly dried. The numbers of people testing positive is going up every day and we do not know when this will stabilize. As Tisaiwale we are affected both socially and economically and the future of our businesses is not known.