July 17, 2012

At the end of the year in Malawi, the “planting” rains arrive. Families get to work swinging hoes, clearing land, weeding and planting maize, beans, soy and tobacco. By March, if rainfall is sufficient, the parched landscape transforms into an emerald ocean of ripening crops that by mid-year are safely in store. This is when speculative grain traders arrive.

Farmers everywhere need cash to pay loans, school fees, medical bills and other expenses such as agricultural inputs. Traders know this and rural farmers usually succumb, selling their crops well below market value. Later, traders sell these grains in bulk, posting significant profits for themselves.

Challenging this system that leaves farmers with little profit has been difficult without access to widespread, reliable market information and alternative outlets. Modern cellular communications and widespread cell phone ownership, however, are beginning to provide windows of opportunity across Africa. Texting has exploded in many African countries as an important tool that bypasses lack of traditional infrastructure and links providers of products and services to their customers.

Sara Maunda is one of a growing number of farmers doing just that—taking charge of marketing their own crops and keeping more profit for themselves with the help of market information. With training from USAID/Malawi’s Market Linkages Initiative, she registered to receive regular market information updates on her cell phone from Esoko, a Ghanaian company with a franchise in Malawi. The “E” stands for electronic, and soko is Swahili for market.

June 21, 2012

On June 15, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) will announce a $1 million investment in Malawi's dairy sector. USADF's President and CEO Lloyd O. Pierson and several high ranking Government of Malawi officials will make the announcement at the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Washington, DC.

The $1 million investment is spread across seven dairy sector projects and placed in the hands of the Malawians to improve production, develop domestic and export markets and nutritional food supply in several marginalized communities. USADF's investment is expected to generate over $3.5 million of new economic activity and support 3,900 farmers and their 20,000 family members.

The dairy sector is a Feed the Future priority in Malawi because it has high potential as a growth oriented value chain. 

June 19, 2012

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) June 15 announced a $1 million investment grant to Malawi’s dairy sector at the 11th U.S.-Sub-Saharan African Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the AGOA Forum.

The $1 million investment, spread across seven dairy-sector projects in Malawi, will work to improve production and develop domestic and export markets and a nutritional food supply in several marginalized communities.

The dairy sector is a “Feed the Future” priority in Malawi because it has high potential as a growth-oriented value product. The project will help expand animal feed and milk production with local farmers.

May 24, 2012

Six Countries to Receive $177 Million to Increase Incomes and Improve Food Security

Partners in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a fund that supports country-led efforts to fight hunger and poverty, today announced that six countries will receive grants totaling $177 million. The grants—to Burundi, the Gambia, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Senegal, and Tanzania—will help each country increase food security, raise rural incomes, and reduce poverty.

International food prices remain volatile and high with the 2011 annual index 24 percent higher than its average in 2010. Prices of certain foods remain dangerously high in many countries, leaving millions of people at risk of malnutrition and hunger, many of them children. In developing countries that face more volatile international markets, it is essential to increase the productivity and resiliency of food production.

 "The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program has quickly proven to be one of the most innovative and effective development programs the global community has created," said Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the United States Treasury for International Affairs. "GAFSP will raise the incomes of 7.5 million smallholder farmers and their families. These new grants will meet the high global demand for agricultural resources to achieve food security. Continued financial support from the development community is critical to maintaining momentum in the fight to achieve sustainable, lasting solutions to hunger and poverty."

Editor’s note: Feed the Future is excited about these new grants and supports the GAFSP’s efforts, which help ensure investments in food security are extended across the globe. We are proud to partner with GAFSP and multilateral organizations in a collective effort to fight hunger, poverty, and undernutrition.

March 8, 2012

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman visited Bunda College of Agriculture in Lilongwe on March 8 during her brief stay in Malawi. The visit celebrated the past, present and future partnership between the U.S. and Bunda. The U.S. helped found Malawi's top agriculture school in the 1960s and the collaboration continues through President Obama’s Feed the Future and Global Climate Change Initiatives.

Under Secretary Sherman delivered remarks to students, faculty and media on the U.S. Government’s longstanding partnership with the institution. She also presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizing these joint efforts in agriculture research, including biotechnology. U.S Ambassador to Malawi Jeanine Jackson and the Principal of Bunda College Professor Moses Kwapata signed the MOU.


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