Strengthening Cooperatives

Malawi: USAID | United in Building and Advancing Life Expectations (UBALE)

Project Profile

UBALE (United in Building and Advance Life Expectations)

NCBA CLUSA is supporting Catholic Relief Services by leading the agribusiness strategy, providing technical leadership in value chain strengthening and business development services, identifying on and off-farm employment opportunities for youth, women, and vulnerable participants, and building the technical and institutional capacity of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM).

at a glance:

January 2015 ‚Äď September 2019

funded by:
USAID
Prime: Catholic Relief Services
$3,001,872

Targets:

Farmers Trained: 29,000

Intervention Value Chains: Sesame Pigeon Pea Groundnut

Project Profile

UBALE (United in Building and Advance Life Expectations)

NCBA CLUSA is supporting Catholic Relief Services by leading the agribusiness strategy, providing technical leadership in value chain strengthening and business development services, identifying on and off-farm employment opportunities for youth, women, and vulnerable participants, and building the technical and institutional capacity of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM).

NCBA CLUSA will work with NASFAM to strengthen farmers clubs into marketing associations of about 1,500 farmers and provide them training in negotiation, quality, and organized delivery. NCBA CLUSA, with NASFAM, will create linkages between farmer associations and local, national, and international buyers; commodity exchanges; agro-input suppliers; financial service providers such as Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs) and commercial banks; micro insurance providers; and technical training providers.

In 2015, NCBA CLUSA completed the sesame value chain assessment, one of the first value chain assessments done on sesame in Malawi and is working with Agriculture Commodity Exchange (ACE) Africa to develop a Marketing Information System for our marketing groups.

A Focus on Finance

Training up farmers on post-harvest handling, and improved farming techniques is only one part of the puzzle for improving value chains. For many farmers, it is the access to credit and finance that makes the difference in being able to access markets. The UBALE project also focusses on business skills development and entrepreneurship trainings.

Another, less obvious indicator, is access to insurance. Using the financial system, savings accounts and loans are important, but so is being able to feel secure in those investments.

NCBA CLUSA’s role in the UBALE project is to help facilitate these public-private and financial links to producer groups and maketing associations along the value chain. At the producer level, increasing how many famers are using business plans and applying for insurance. At the organizational level, supporting marketing associations to operate to standard in practices such as bulk purchasing.

In September 2018, farmers in rural Blantyre formed their own credit union (BNC SACCO) to access finance for their farms year-round. Read more about the story below.

 

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