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.
Emily Manda - Marketing Capacity Building Project by FAO
Emily Manda is a 33-year-old married mother of four who started farming in 2009. In 2016, she joined the Flanders-funded “Marketing Capacity Building Project” and consequently received training on improved agricultural technologies (for example field preparation, seed planting, making and spacing ridges). Once implemented, these led to bumper harvests and a much-improved income.
With the profits, Emily was able to build a house and purchase 12 cattle. Furthermore, she can afford to send her children and other dependents to school, and no longer struggles to buy stationery and school uniforms. She says: “The future is bright for me. In the past I could only make about MK200,000 per growing season but now I make over MK1,000,000. The skills that I attained from the project will remain with me even after the project.”
Today Emily has expanded her activities to include business as well as farming. She also learned marketing skills, including how to benefit from selling crops as a group, communicating and negotiating with buyers, and therefore selling at better prices. She now employs other people to work for her, and is working towards renting more land to increase her production. Her vision is ultimately to build houses which she plans to rent out.
The “Marketing Capacity Building Project” implemented by the FAO, ran from December 2015 to December 2022 in the Mzimba and Kasungu districts. The project focused on capacity building of the decentralized institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture. As a result, these institutions could, in turn, facilitate and coordinate support to smallholder farmer households to grow higher volumes of produce for market in a profitable and sustainable way. Beneficiaries were 1,000 farmer organisations comprising 30,000 farmers. The project aligned with the MoA’s objective of promoting market-oriented farming as well as Pillar 1 of Malawi Vision 2063, namely “Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization”. Implementing partners were the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Kasungu Agricultural Development Division, and the Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division.