Cooking oil produced and packaged by Mthirasembe farmers cooperative Photo: MSIDP

Adding value to smallholder farming in Malawi

Cooking oil produced and packaged by Mthirasembe farmers cooperative Photo: MSIDP

Cooking oil produced and packaged by Mthirasembe farmers cooperative Photo: MSIDP

Smallholder farmers in Malawi, with support from a seed development project and government initiatives, have successfully set up a groundnut oil producing enterprise, thereby boosting incomes and opening up market opportunities. They formed a cooperative of 118 members and are producing, on average, 6,000 liters of cooking oil, translating to MK 7,200,000 (US$ 9,600) in sales per month. Almost 2,000 farmers have been linked to markets so far via this project.

Factors such as lack of access to structured markets have historically locked out smallholder farmers in Malawi from participating in its rewarding market economy. However, the enterprising members of Mthiransembe Oil-producing Cooperative in Mchinji district, Central Malawi, have proven that smallholder farmers are quite capable of finding solutions to their development challenges.

The 118-member group (58 women and 60 men), established in 2016, is one of the farmer cooperatives that the Malawi Seed Industry Development Project (MSIDP), through the Legume Development Trust (LDT) of the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship, has provided technical support to, including training and market linkages. LDT trained the group in oil processing and marketing, and later linked them to ‘One Village One Product’ – a government program that equipped the cooperative with oil processing machinery.

Since its establishment, the oil press, which produces 200 liters of cooking oil, has become a stable market for groundnut farmers in the area, most of whom used to sell their produce to intermediary agents at giveaway prices. The oil is sold to grocery shops within the community and bigger shops in Lilongwe, at MK 1,200 (about US$ 1.6) per liter, and dividends are shared annually, among members of the cooperative.

The group’s Chairperson, Mr Kuliyani Chadooka says that the cooperative has since acquired a machine with higher processing capacity, which enables them to produce up to 6,000 liters of groundnut oil per month. Click here to see video:

The MSIDP has linked over 1,923 farmers to structured markets and is working closely with government’s nutrition coordinators as well as food and nutrition specialists to train farmer organizations in Rumphi, Dowa, Ntchisi and Balaka districts with a range of recipes that will ensure that legumes and their products (such as oil) are widely utilized both for business and consumption.

Read more about ICRISAT’s work in Malawi on EXPLOREit

Project: Malawi Seed Industry Development Project (Phase II) (Phase I: 1 2008 – 2016; Phase II: 2016 – 2021)
Funder: Irish Aid
Partners: The Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) and the Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES), both under the Ministry of Agriculture in Malawi ; The Legumes Development Trust; International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); and ICRISAT
CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals

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