Access to agricultural inputs for smallholder farmers has always been a challenge in Malawi. Despite government support through the farm-input subsidy program (FISP), not all smallholder farmers have access to this program. Smallholder farmers from Jere Village in TA Kampingo Sibande in Mzimba have not been immune to this challenge. In an attempt to improve their access to finance, farmers from the village formed the Jalawe Village Loans and Savings Group. The group provided loan assistance to its members by buying shares as capital, which would thereafter be shared as dividends and used to purchase farm inputs. The group was formed in 2018 with an initial membership of 30 (five men and 25 women).

In May 2019, Rose Harris identified the group through its extension and demand-creation activities in the area. Rose Harris is trading as Tiwonge Investments in the northern part of Malawi. After consultation with the members, an agreement was reached on how the Hub Agrodealer could incorporate Jalawe into its existing inputs distribution programme.

The Hub Agrodealer operates “Inputs pakhonde”, literally meaning “Inputs at your doorstep”. The programme was developed by Tiwonge Investments, when it was established that smallholder farmers travel considerable distances to access fertilizer and other agricultural inputs, which adds significantly to their transportation costs. Through this new arrangement, the Hub Agrodealer delivers inputs to a village’s central point, and registered farmers can buy these during the agricultural season.

It is also encouraging to note that the group has now transformed into Jalawe Farmers Group and it is taking a leading role in the Hub Agrodealers’ demand-creation activities. During the 2019 winter season, Jalawe Farmers Group, with support from the Hub Agrodealer, actively participated in winter demonstrations.

The winter demonstrations were set up as part of the project implementation for the Hub Agrodealer’s development program in Malawi. During this intervention, the AFAP-supported Hub Agrodealers were mandated to establish demonstration plots as a demand-creation initiative for their products, primarily fertilizer. The demonstration plots are also serving as awareness demonstrations for the 23:10:5:6s +1Zn new N:P:K blanket fertilizer formulation released by the government of Malawi in 2018. The plots also help promote best agronomic practices.

 

Farmers in Lilongwe appreciate crop stand during a field day                                                       An extension worker during a village loan savings group meeting in Dedza

 

   

Loan saving group meeting                                                                                                               Field day in Dedza