New USDA Program Expands Production and Demand of Malawian Agriculture
September 13, 2012 (Blantyre, Malawi) - Land O'Lakes International Development has just launched a new U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded Food for Progress Program as well as a Buy Malawi public awareness campaign to boost domestic demand for locally grown and processed agricultural products. Representatives from Malawi’s Ministry of Industry and Trade; the U.S. Embassy to Malawi; and Land O'Lakes International Development all spoke at the launch event in Blantyre.
|Listen to an audio clip of Derek Mullen, Land O'Lakes Chief of Party for Malawi, talk about the reasons behind the program and the goals that we are aiming to acheive through the Buy Malawi campaign. Click here to listen.|
The nearly four-year program will work to improve agricultural productivity in Nkhotakota and Salima districts by expanding irrigation opportunities and taking private-sector led approaches to revitalizing how rice, cassava and small livestock are farmed. Valued at $18 million in total, this Food for Progress program will train 51,000 farmers, particularly female farmers, on best production practices, improved farming technologies, and the importance of maintaining a diverse diet.
“More Malawian investments need to be locally owned, and more local entrepreneurs need to be at the helm of businesses that employ locals as they prepare for growth,” said Nebert Nyiranga, Principal Secretary for Malawi’s Ministry of Industry and Trade. He added, “This makes me very pleased to see that this new USDA-funded Food for Progress Program will place significant attention on growing and strengthening Malawian farmer groups, associations and cooperatives.”
Building on Land O’Lakes’ rich agribusiness cooperative heritage, over 200 farmer associations will be trained in International Development’s AgPro methodology through the program. AgPro is a training tool that strengthens the efficacy, as well as the organizational and financial management, of farmer-owned producer groups and cooperatives. It was developed by Land O’Lakes under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Cooperative Development Program. Strengthening farmer groups, associations and cooperatives will enhance commercialization capacities and market linkages, giving farmers greater negotiating power. The program will also engage financial service providers to increase access to insurance, credit and other financial services for smallholder farmers.
Also speaking at the event, the U.S. Embassy to Malawi’s Economic and Commercial Growth Officer Chris Nyce stated how the Food for Progress Program is strongly supportive of key development initiatives by the Governments of the United States and Malawi. “In line with Her Excellency the President Mrs. Joyce Banda’s Food Security Initiative and President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, this Food for Progress program will rely on a value chain approach that not only focuses on farm productivity, but also facilitates partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including the private sector, to expand agro-processing and export opportunities,” Nyce said.
As insufficient domestic demand for local products remains a key constraint to agricultural production, the event in Blantyre also launched a Buy Malawi campaign – a key element of the Food for Progress Program – in order to sensitize Malawian consumers about the importance of buying locally grown and processed products. Employing TV, radio and billboard ads, in-store events, as well as other social marketing tools and tactics, the initial Buy Malawi Campaign will be followed by three other campaigns that specifically target rice, cassava and small livestock value chains.
“To further spur consumer demand, I am pleased to see that Land O’Lakes, in partnership with a range of stakeholders from across Malawi, is launching this Buy Malawi campaign today, a public awareness effort that will ensure Malawians at-large recognize the importance their buying power plays in ensuring a brighter future for themselves and for their neighbors,” Nyiranga said.
The Food for Progress and Buy Malawi launch event was attended by a wide range of public and private sector partners from across Malawi, the District Commissioner for Nkhotakota, the District Administrator for Salima, as well as an array of Malawian processors and business associations. Many Malawian small and medium-sized enterprises also displayed their products and services at the event, while a drama skit engaged audience members to better understand the positive impact they could have on economic development when they purchase local products.
Operating in Malawi since 1999, Land O’Lakes recently completed implementing the $5.7 million Malawi Dairy Development Alliance (MDDA), a program that helped reduce poverty and hunger for some 14,000 individuals by enabling farmers to form Milk Bulking Groups (MBGs), through which they could access credit, inputs and markets. The program made 1,600 cows available to farmers and provided thousands with training to improve animal care and feeding. By the end of the program, more than 4,000 people had adopted new farming technologies and management practices, including fodder conservation, to help get them through the dry season. Of the 23 MBGs, seven have now formally established themselves as cooperatives.
On August 5, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a $46 million expansion of U.S. government investment in Malawi during a visit to the Lumbadzi Milk Bulking Group, one of 23 dairy producer groups assisted throughout the course of MDDA.
Land O’Lakes, Inc. (www.landolakesinc.com) is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative with annual sales of nearly $13 billion. The nation’s second-largest cooperative and number 210 on the Fortune 500, Land O’Lakes does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Operating as a not-for-profit division of the cooperative, since 1981, Land O'Lakes International Development has improved the quality of life for millions of people in 76 nations through more than 275 projects worldwide that are generating economic growth, improving health and nutrition, and alleviating poverty by facilitating market-driven business solutions.