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Madisi Agro-Processors Cooperative
In Africa, there is a concept called Ubuntu. Umunthu in Chichewa. It means “I am because you are.”
Nelson Mandela described ubuntu as “the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”
Accomplishment through Collaboration
In 2013, a group of farmers in Madisi, Malawi united as a cooperative. They believed in the value of umunthu. They could accomplish more as a group than they could alone. Their agro-processors cooperative is now made up of 1,724 farmers. 40% of the group is male and 60% is female. They produce:
Sunflower is their most produced legume. They use it to make cooking oil, a cash crop. From cooking oil residues, they also make animal feed. Animal feed is another valuable product to sell to the Madisi community.
Starting from nothing, it’s hard to achieve something. Especially without help. Since the majority of Madisi Cooperative farmers are poor, they struggled to purchase certified seeds and other farming inputs. This resulted in low production of sunflower seed. The cooperative knew they could achieve more, but not without extra support.
A Partnership with Orant
Orant, too, believes in the value of umhuntu. And in the power of microloans for the poor. Orant has given Madisi Cooperative a loan of 2 million kwacha for the 2021/2022 growing season. The loan has a low-interest rate of only 3%. This lifts the burden of paying back a high-interest loan. Orant doesn’t want to dwindle the cooperative’s proceeds. We want to see the cooperative’s success.
To ensure this success, Orant provides the cooperative with education and field monitoring. Orant’s Agriculture Program Manager Gracious Msimuko says, “Without proper techniques, the farmers can’t benefit from the loan. That’s why we’re working closely with them. We want to make sure they get the most out of this that they can.”
“I am so delighted,” says Madisi Cooperative Chairperson Austin Chapotela. “The loan has helped us grow a new variety of sunflower called Milika. We are expecting to produce a minimum of 20 tonnes of sunflower. Orant’s support will go a long way.”
Madisi Cooperative plans to:
- Buy a vehicle and good machinery to produce cooking oil at a large scale
- Get a generator set to beat the electricity blackouts
- Get government certification
- Build a warehouse
There is a phrase in Chichewa: kali kokha nkanyama, tili awiri ntiwanthu.
When you are on your own, you are as good as an animal of the wild. But when there are two of you, you form a community.
At Orant, collaboration and community are among our highest values.
I am because you are.
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