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Clinton Foundation, Africa Improved Foods boost Malawi farmers’ incomes amidst COVID-19

The Clinton Foundation and Africa Improved Foods (AIF) are helping to source soybeans from Malawi’s farming communities to the AIF market in Rwanda, supporting farmers’ livelihoods and strengthening local agricultural economies

This partnership began in the 2018/2019 season, when AIF purchased 997 mt of soybeans produced by CDI farming communities in Malawi for four months, generating more than US$408,000 for farmers.

This season, despite the challenges of COVID-19, AIF purchased almost twice the volume of soybeans as in the previous season at prices above the Malawi market. In total, nearly 1,793 mt were produced by farmers’ cooperatives and marketing groups in Malawi, generating US$773,536 for the AIF market.

This direct injection of income into the hands of farmers is a critical step in building not only trust between farming communities and markets, but also in building resilient and sustainable regional trade.

Paradzai Thompson, sourcing manager of agricultural commodities for Africa Improved Foods Rwanda, stressed that the partnership with CDI resulted in the purchase of an additional 1,855 MT from other traders in Malawi generating an additional US$850,864 in foreign currency for the country. These soya beans are used to produce additional nutritious foods that are used to fight malnutrition in thousands of children.

Alexis Mucumbitsi, head of nutrition at the National Early Childhood Development Program (NECDP), stated that the importance of their collaboration with AIF in providing fortified food to pregnant and nursing mothers and children in the fight against malnutrition. “AIF’s fortified, blended foods are distributed to vulnerable families with pregnant and lactating women as well as children from six to 24 months grouped in Ubudehe 1 across all the 30 districts and the same is distributed to pregnant and lactating women and children (six to 24 months) in Ubudehe 2 in 13 districts with a high prevalence of stunting.”

Ubudehe is a socio-economic stratification system in which social protection schemes support the most vulnerable population. There are currently four categories with the first category designated for the poorest in society.

Farming communities in Malawi face a myriad of value-chain related challenges including access to improved productive inputs, low access to flexible financing mechanisms, and limited access to markets offering premium prices for high-quality commodities that are produced in large quantities, consistently.

In order for farming communities to fully benefit from this success, they need to be better connected to markets while producing high-quality crops that can be sold at a premium. Traditionally, smallholder communities have struggled to achieve the quality demanded by commercial markets. Still, through intensive community-based training – CDI’s Community Agribusiness (CAB) approach – smallholders in Malawi have been able to meet the strictest quality requirements.