Kevin Simpson on Malawi Fruits Charity
Malawi Fruits is a Scottish Charity that was established in 2011 to work with their partners in Malawi to develop and grow sustainable community businesses. Kevin said Malawi is land locked and its fresh water lake is the same size as England, however it also has hills and trees just like Scotland. As the 4th poorest country in the world, half its population is under 16 years of age.
Malawi Fruits is a Scottish NGO (a non-governmental organization is a group that functions independently of any government). It is usually non-profit. NGOs, sometimes called civil society organizations, are established on community, national, and international levels to serve a social or political goal such as a humanitarian cause or the protection of the environment, which focusses on sustainable economic development as a means of creating long-term change for small-scale farmers in Malawi. Kevin said they use social enterprise models as a means of initiating and operating commercial operations in crop growing and processing in Northern Malawi. All operations are on a not-for-profit basis. Malawi Fruits provides training and support to local farmers and community enterprises and through their innovative rent-to-own model, Malawi Fruits provide Polytunnels and solar-powered irrigation pumps on an affordable basis. These productive assets give the farmers the potential to gain a year-round income and provide resilience in the face of the challenges of climate change. For farmers, this increased household income can then be used for school fees, health care, home improvements and further business development. Their work, continued Kevin, is delivered through their social enterprise partner Modern Farming Technologies (MFT). The farmers contract with MFT Ltd for the supply of the equipment which means this is a dignified, business to business transaction, rather than a handout. This gives dignity to the farmer and sustainability to MFT since farmers pay for the assets over time, using the proceeds from their much increased crop sales.
Together, Malawi Fruits are providing the training and tools which enable farmers to gain an income year round and in the long term.
Malawi faces many challenges in trying to modernise farming. Through working with smallholder farmers during their Paprika Project, Kevin said they had identified the following barriers:
- Mechanisation; required to increase efficiency, reduce child labour and encourage young people to farm.
- Irrigation; needs to be sustainable: with low running costs and be well maintained.
- Raw materials; year round supply of the correct variety and of adequate standard. In 2011 the main food was Nsima, a thickened porridge made from maize, one of the most vital and widely grown crops in Malawi. If travelling across the country during the rainy season, inevitably fields after fields of maize can be seen.
- Processing facilities;need to be properly-equipped, efficiently run and meet all the relevant food safety standards.
- Market; need for a marketing operation covering branding, packaging, transport and sourcing the markets.
Malawi Fruits is addressing these challenges continued Kevin by building up an Agri-Service Centre. The range of services provided by the Agri Service Centre is growing all the time, and the Malawi Fruits interventions is enabling the farmers to grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and cucumbers with substantial yields from each plant far more than in the field.
The Service Centre will be the Hub which provides the range of services needed to sustain all the other work in which Malawi Fruit is engage.
Neil Beattie gave a worthy vote of thanks.