The current five-year strategic partnership between Flanders and Malawi is outlined in the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) 2019-2023, and focuses on the agricultural sector, more specifically on extension services, market-oriented farming and sustainable land management. The CSP guides the programming of projects and supports continuous monitoring and evaluation by Flanders and its implementing partners to measure the projects’ success and impact.
These processes provide a narrative with numbers, graphs and measurement indicators. However, that is only a part of the story. The real impact and value of a project can only be ascertained at grass roots level. With this in mind, we interviewed 55 beneficiaries of Flanders-funded projects in Malawi to understand the impact, if any, on their lives.
Real impact is not represented in number or graphs; it is told by people. Theirs is the real story.
Cathy Kanyukuta - Tools for Market Access project (Tradeline)
Cathy Kanyukuta is a 26-year-old single parent who started farming in 2018 with maize, soybeans and groundnuts. Profits were slow to come as vendors could only pay low purchase prices. In 2019 she joined the Changu Cooperative which was working with the Flanders-funded “Tools for Market Access” project, implemented by Tradeline. Through the project, Cathy received training in new farming methods and business skills which she used to provide a better life for herself and her daughter.
By implementing better farming practices and selling her produce at more competitive prices through the cooperative, Cathy has achieved improved yields and has doubled her profits. This means she can afford to rent five acres of land in addition to the acre on which she first started farming. During the 2021/22 farming season, she increased production and was able to allocate two acres to each crop of soybeans, maize and groundnuts.
Cathy also acquired business skills and is now the accounts assistant for the cooperative. More importantly, these skills have made her a businessperson. She told us:
“I also used the business skills I attained from the trainings to establish my own business; I buy and sell commodities to the cooperative and I can do that because of the trainings. I am now able to employ two people to help me with my business. Even if the project ends now, I will still be able to use the skills I acquired to grow my business and I mentor five other people on business.”
Cathy’s story testifies to the impact of the project in real terms. She has bought a plot on which she plans to build a house, her daughter attends a good nursery school, and through her work at the cooperative and mentorships, she contributes to the growth and welfare of the community.
The “Tools for Market Access” project aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the Mzimba and Kasungu districts. The project, funded by Flanders and implemented by Tradeline Corporation Group Ltd, started in January 2018 and is expected to close in December 2023. The project works with 15 Marketing Organisations comprising both cooperatives and individual small and medium enterprises, linking them to larger buyers, providing access to loans, offering mentorships and trainings in areas such as Leadership, Marketing, Supply Chain Management, Business and Financial Management, as well as mentorships to provide knowledge and skills capacity.