Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA) got funding from Ministry of Economic Planning and Development/African Capacity Building Foundation (MEPD/ACBF) of US$31, 000 in 2005 to facilitate the establishment of farmer cooperatives.
The initiative was also supported by other cooperating partner such as World University Services of Canada (WUSC) who provided a Cooperative Development Specialist, Clement Gwanyama, whose contract ended in December 2007. Mr. Gwanyama assisted in building capacity of cooperatives in areas of proposal writing and educating them on gender and HIV and AIDS issues.
Some cooperatives have since received grants for various projects.
A cooperative leadership training in session by Cooperative Department staff
The primary objective of establishing these cooperatives is to strengthen the grassroots structures and to use the structures as a vehicle to deliver TAMA services as well as other interventions of food security, crop diversification, environmental rehabilitation issues, HIV and AIDS, education and economic empowerment to its membership.
The established cooperatives are working in the areas of food security, environmental rehabilitation, promotion of gender equity and HIV and AIDS, activities, and provision of agricultural credits through linkages with Financial Institutions.
In general, the cooperatives have benefited TAMA members in driving the sense of ownership through the acquisition of shares, providing economic empowerment through the access to agricultural loans from Financial Institutions, understanding and partaking in burley contract marketing/growing initiatives being piloted by the tobacco industry, promoting agro-diversification, developed entrepreneurial culture and conducting business for the benefit of their members.
Currently there are 43 cooperatives that have been established across the country and 42 of them are registered with the Malawi Government.
Msanama Cooperative Members
COOPERATIVES CAPACITY BUILDING
TAMA has planned to establish three more cooperatives in the quarter ending 30th September 2011. These cooperatives will be established in the following areas: Msipe (Ntcheu District), Mwazisi (Rumphi District), Chiwamba (Lilongwe District). A Member Education Training program has already been approved by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
RECORD KEEPING & FINANCIAL REPORTING TRAINING
The government has also approved a program to facilitate training in Bookkeeping and Financial Reporting to the cooperatives. One session has been planned and TAMA Business and Grading Certification Officers (BCGO’s) will continue training other cooperatives thereafter.
FARM TRACTOR CREDIT SCHEME
TAMA is to facilitate the acquisition of farm tractors on credit by some cooperatives. At the time of writing this report, Agro-Africa Ltd (TAFE) had already moved around some Cooperatives in the Central Region to demonstrate the performance of their tractors. Two cooperatives (Simphasi and Bowe) have since applied to FDH Bank for a credit facility.
AGRICULTURE FINANCING 2010-2011 SEASON
TAMA in its quest to empower its grass root members, signed two MOUs under which FDH Bank provided credit to TAMA members. The first MOU is between TAMA and FDH Bank while as the second MOU is between TAMA, FDH and Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company. Over K23, 000, 000 was disbursed under the first credit scheme while as under the second credit scheme, a total of k39, 000, 000 had been lent to the farmers to access agri-inputs for tobacco production. Currently loan recovery is progressing well.