On February 3, 2016, the efforts of USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub to establish Agricultural Storage Investment Facilities (ASIF) in Malawi resulted in the inception of an Inter-Ministerial Committee to improve coordination among the various Malawian government agencies responsible for authorizing investments in agricultural storage.
The Trade Hub’s Strategic Partnership Grant to Vermeulen/Aandele Trust was closed out at the end of January 2016. During closeout, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub learned that the supply partnerships forged during the grant between Vermeulen/Aandele Trust and other grantees—Valid Nutrition Malawi and Jungle Beat in Zambia—will continue into the foreseeable future.
During the last week of December 2015, Strategic Partnership Grantee Valid Nutrition prepared to participate in a global tender for the supply of Ready to Use Complementary Food (RUCF) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Without the grant through USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub, this would not have been possible.
From December 16-19, 2015, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub reviewed the draft Malawi Seed Law in Lilongwe to ensure its harmonization with the SADC Model Law. In addition to meeting Lynn Schneider, USAID/Malawi Feed the Future Coordinator, the Senior Legal Advisor also met with Prince Kapondamgaga and Dr. Candida Nakhumwa, the CEO and Deputy CEO respectively of the Malawi Farmers’ Union.
The Agricultural Storage Investment Facility (ASIF) strategy of USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub came a significant step closer to fruition during the week of December 7, 2015, with the final project appraisal in Malawi by the European Investment Bank (EIB) for a warehouse investment credit line to agribusiness through a prominent Malawian bank.
In Malawi, soy and groundnut crops sold on the domestic market are often of poor quality and do not meet export specifications as a result of poor post-harvest handling. There is a growing demand for soy in the region that is not being realized due to these quality concerns. The grant is enabling the installation of a sorting, grading, and cleaning plant in Malawi to address post-harvest handling challenges.
Within Malawi and the rest of Southern Africa, there is a high demand for Ready to Use Complementary Foods (RUCF): highly-nutritious, portable, and shelf-stable products that can play a major role in improving the nutrition of children and pregnant women in particular.
Groundnuts have been identified as a key diversification cash crop for smallholder farmers in Malawi, but farmers have trouble increasing production due to limited access to quality seed, as well as poor growing and post-harvest practices that damage crop quality and in turn limit access to markets.
Research into improved seed varieties, especially drought-tolerant ones, is vital for improving food security in southern Africa. Through a Strategic Partnership Grant from USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub, Capstone, an independent South African seed company, entered into a joint venture with Peacock Enterprises Ltd of Malawi to multiply and market "CAP9001."
USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub is supporting Malawi’s efforts to devise a Seed Bill that is fully aligned with regional harmonization processes and provides clarity for industry on key issues affecting registration, certification, and labeling protocols.
In November 2015, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub completed a set of officially branded Feed the Future (FTF) project videos. Feed the Future is the US Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.
On November 4, 2015, the USAID Southern Africa Mission visited strategic partnership grantees PMD packaging/Valid Nutrition and MH Boerdery/NASFAM in Lilongwe, Malawi. Paul Pleva and William Benjamin were joined by Cullen Hughes and Carol Jenkins from USAID Malawi.
During the week of November 9-13, 2015, Strategic Partnership Grantee Vermeulen Andele Trust received the first shipment of in-shell groundnuts at its warehouse in Lilongwe, Malawi. With the new equipment procured through a strategic partnership grant from USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub, Vermeulen has started cleaning the groundnuts. Vermeulen has already sourced hundreds of tons of groundnuts, which will be exported to South Africa after cleaning and sorting.
ATI and USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub hosted a workshop in Blantyre on September 17, 2015 that attracted 40 representatives from the banking and finance sector of Malawi. The Trade Hub has been working to bring together Africa Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), the Agricultural Commodity Exchange of Malawi (ACE), and Malawi banks to make more finance available for farmers and traders who store their grains in ACE-accredited warehouses.
From 2014 to June 2015, the Trade Hub supported Strategic Partnership Grantee Ybema Grain Services to expand its grain handling services throughout the Southern Africa region as the company provided multiple training sessions to various agricultural organizations.
The SA Trade Hub and partner INVC are assisting NASFAM and CADECOM to train farmer leaders in aflatoxin management and mitigation in Malawi. These efforts are aimed at improving the standard and quality of groundnuts for the NASFAM, Afrinut, and Valid Nutrition supply chains.
USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub is currently developing an Agricultural Storage Investment Facilities (ASIF) in Malawi with subsequent replication into Zambia. After a stakeholder consultation in 2013 revealed a severe shortage of agri-warehousing in Malawi, the Trade Hub worked to convene relevant organizations to facilitate financing and investment into warehousing and to address investment bottlenecks.
USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub, in conjunction with two of its Strategic Partnership Grantees, organized two trainings during the week of August 10, 2015 in Malawi on the Safe Use of Pesticides for smallholder farmers and warehouse staff.
In coordination with Southern African Grain Laboratories (SAGL), USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub sponsored an intensive ten-day training and certification course ending on July 31, 2015 for selected technicians from Malawi and Zambia.
USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub is working in coordination with the USAID/Malawi INVC (Integrating Nutrition in Value Chains) program to raise awareness, improve standards, and bring quality to the Malawian groundnut supply chain. From July 13-22, 2015, three training workshops in Malawi sensitized farmers to the health and economic effects of aflatoxin contamination and demonstrated methods to decrease contamination at both the pre-and post-harvest stages.
This week strategic partner Sierk Ybema Grain Services (SYGS) completed its Regional Mobile Training Services (RMTS) program. The RMTS program was established in an effort to reduce post-harvest losses in the SADC Feed the Future (FtF) countries of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia through certified grain training in storage and handling.
Based on the results of agricultural laboratory assessment surveys conducted in April and May 2015 in Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique by the SAGL (Southern African Grain Laboratories) at the behest of the SA Trade Hub, four lab technicians from the region were selected to attend a specialized training course in South Africa.
As part of its ongoing Aflatoxin mitigation initiatives, the SA Trade Hub recently held a training on the “Safe Disposal of Contaminated (Aflatoxin) Groundnuts,” in the premises of Afri-Nut, a partner food processor in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Specialists from the SA Trade Hub, in conjunction with local partner INVC, trained over 200 farmers in Aflatoxin management in the Dedza District of Malawi. The field-based training targeted farmer leaders who will now be able to serve as farmer trainers in best practices in Aflatoxin mitigation and management for the roughly 10,000 smallholder farmers in Dedza.
The SA Trade Hub Communications Team is in the process of developing and producing a number of video products designed to capture the USAID program’s five years of diverse, market-oriented activities and influence.
Since 2013, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub has been promoting a strategy to support investments into regional agricultural warehousing through an Agricultural Storage Investment Facility (ASIF) with initial focus in Malawi and subsequently Zambia. ASIF is designed to provide broad-based access to storage, finance, and markets that will directly benefit smallholder farmers in these Feed-the-Future countries.
During the week of June 8, 2015, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub facilitated a second mission by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to Malawi as part of the Trade Hub's Agricultural Storage Investment Facility (ASIF) initiative. The EIB had previously visited Malawi in late January and reached an in-principle understanding with market participants for a deal to finance agricultural warehousing through a facility provided to a well-placed Malawian commercial bank for on-lending to end beneficiaries.
The Trade Hub participated in the Southern Africa Feed the Future (FtF) regional workshop with three presentations as part of the Advancing Intra-Regional Trade and Investment session, chaired by USAID's Deputy Director of the Regional Economic Growth Office, Nancy Whitney.
As part of ongoing work to promote gender integration in the implementation of its Strategic Partnership Grants, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub conducted two gender integration training courses in Malawi: one for NASFAM staff from May 21-22 and the other for groundnut farmers working with NASFAM from May 19-20, 2015.
USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub demonstrated the AppSolve IT systems software for Warehouse Receipts to ZAMACE (Zambia Agricultural Commodities Exchange) and the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE), which has resulted in Zambia deciding last week to adopt the system. The AppSolve IT system provides an online data collection platform that will enable ZAMACE to issue warehouse receipts electronically in time for the next farming season. The Trade Hub demonstrated the system to ZAMACE in a live connectivity extension training in Mozambique.
USAID’s Southern Africa Regional Economic Growth Office paid a visit to Southern Africa Trade Hub Strategic Partnership Grantees in Lilongwe, Malawi and Chipata, Zambia from May 17-22 to monitor grant progress, compliance, and deliverables. Environmental Compliance Officer Judith Mlanda Zvikaramba and Senior Agricultural Development Specialist Patricia Rwasoka-Masanganise visited four sites in the region, while Feed the Future Coordinator Lynn Schneider from USAID Malawi joined for one of the site visits (to Valid Nutrition) as well.
In coordination with INVC and Universal Industries, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub held two one-day workshops in Blantyre and Lilongwe to showcase “Blue Box” technology as a way of controlling aflatoxin levels in stored groundnuts and other cereals. The Blue Box is a precision tool kit, composed of sampling and testing instruments as well as chemicals, that provides on the spot quality control to monitor crop or grain condition. It can be used both in the field and in storage facilities at any level and comes with full service backup and training.
USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub visited four Strategic Partnership Grant activity sites in Malawi last week to benchmark the status of grant implementation, address potential hurdles, and highlight successes realized thus far. The grants are leveraging the skills, knowledge, and technology of South African partners to address agricultural issues in Malawi related to aflatoxin and groundnut processing, crop resiliency, malnutrition decrease, and post-harvest loss.
USAID Southern Africa Director of the Regional Economic Growth Office, Mark Wilt and Bill Benjamin, USAID’s Feed the Future Coordinator and Agriculture Team Leader toured the Cargill facility in Catandica, Mozambique, which is being upgraded through a Strategic Partnership Grant.
The Southern Africa Trade Hub is providing support for the integration of gender specific interventions into the HM Boerdery Strategic Partnership Grant in Malawi. The first phase was a gender analysis that took place took place April 24-30. On April 24 the Trade Hub attended a marketing field day organized by the Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ACE) for Africa and held at the NASFAM (National Association of Smallholder Farmers) offices in Lilongwe South. The event highlighted the agricultural marketing approaches that ACE uses and the benefits that farmers can derive from them.
The Southern Africa Trade Hub, in conjunction with its bilateral USAID partner project INVC (Integrating Nutrition in Value Chains), hosted a pair of two-day training workshops in Malawi for over 100 participants drawn from processors, traders, farmers unions, and farmer leaders on aflatoxin management and removal in groundnuts for trade and processing.
The Southern Africa Trade Hub, through its Strategic Partnership grantee Solidaridad, sponsored a training session in Chimoio, Mozambique from April 23-24 for field extension workers on gender integration in the soy and groundnut value chains. The grant is designed to restore soil composition and fertility and livelihood enhancement through crop rotation. Participants took part in the training from multiple organizations, including the private sector (OLAM), the public sector, and NGOs Solidaridad and the Farmers’ Association.
The Trade Hub is providing support for the integration of gender specific interventions into the HM Boerdery Strategic Partnership Grant, which focuses on groundnut value chain development in Malawi. It is estimated that 7,000 smallholder groundnut producers in Malawi (60% of whom are women) will benefit from the grant, which is creating farmer trainers to disseminate knowledge on aflatoxin control. As part of the grant, the groundnut sorting and grading facilities of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) will be upgraded, enabling small-scale groundnut farmers to achieve higher prices for their product.
Through its Strategic Partnership Grant with Sierk Ybema Grain Services, USAID's Southern Africa Trade Hub supported a Regional Mobile Grain Training Unit Training Course in Lilongwe, Malawi from March 23 to April 2. The course was held at ACE (Agricultural Commodity Exchange) Malawi and was designed to equip newly hired warehouse managers with the technical knowledge and practical techniques needed to run effective warehouses and combat post-harvest losses.
The Trade Hub has successfully identified Africa Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) as an entity with the interest and ability to underwrite credit risk for the Warehouse Receipts System (WRS) in Malawi. This initiative is poised to increase finance for grain producers, traders, and buyers in Malawi significantly.
From March 9-13, the Southern Africa Trade Hub facilitated the first ever investment mission by the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) to Malawi in partnership with the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE). AFD, an agency of the French state, is a development finance institution that provides investment, de-risking, and technical assistance in support of social and economic development across emerging markets.
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