Project Everest

Work Update

Social Consulting in Agriculture

by
Soni Lawson
Soni Lawson | Jul 26, 2017 | in Agriculture Assessment

Hi guys, Soni here, from the Malawi July 2017 agriculture and social consulting assessment team.

 

I want to take the opportunity to share an idea looking specifically into micro financing and agriculture. First though, context! These past four weeks my team has worked to achieve our month long-goal to implement an experimental farm here in Blantyre, Malawi. We have successfully secured a one-acre parcel of land, through a partnership with the District Cabinet of Agriculture. Implementation of the farm will go forth in November. This experimental farm will improve the quality of life for the community, both in food security and income levels.

 

We found that most farmers had a problem of not growing enough produce or making enough harvest to sell or store, especially in the dry season. This is leading them to eat on average two meals per day, this is a current issue. That affects them in a detrimental way because farming is their main source of income. Through this I found that most women are not allowed to control the financial side of things, for example buying seeds/fertilizer and most women who were farmers are not aware of loans. If they can access a loan, they would get loans from their neighbors at cripplingly high interest rates of 20% and beyond.

 

found that when asking women what they would do if they had access to a loan, most said they would start a small business. This could be as simple as offer a micro-financing loan, which will allow women to have enough money to buy enough seeds to feed a family or help start a simple business of growing a home garden to sell and eat. This loan would not be reliant on the men buying seeds or dealing with finances on behalf of the women, but empowering the women themselves and therefore promoting greater independence and food security.

 

There is a lot of evidence around the world, including here in Africa, where microfinancing for women to start up local farming businesses provides value to the community, through increase revenue streams, greater gender equality and healthier outcomes for families by having a home garden or a loan to buy farming equipment and seeds and sell the harvest.

 

In regards to the ‘how’ of this idea, is not for Project Everest to be the primary organization to be the benefactor but to be the facilitator, similar to how the experimental farm works. Therefore having not cemented revenue or cost structure Starting off with a testing phase and see what works and how it works. In order to alter the loan process and starting a small business of a home garden.

 

This is an idea, which has been successful in other communities, and one that I see this as a potential here in Malawi because of the need in this community for better food security and higher income levels will support its positive growth.

Would love to hear what you think or have any advice you have.

 

P.S This is an idea I have put out there because I would love to hear what you think or have any advice you have. Hence the reason why I have not put in the refined logistics in.

 

 

 

William Lee Jul 26, 2017

If you have an experimental farm, I think what would be great is to also see what is required to run a successful farm in Malawi.
Treat your own farm as a small business, and figure out what are the key inputs required to increase scale or efficiency, as well as how/where you can sell those produce.
Having done so, you will have a greater understanding of the needs of your future customers, given you will have gone through the process yourself.

This process will allow any initial ag/social consulting advice to be extremely relevant. With this in mind, you can better advise future customers and have a better understanding of the risks associated. This information will be crucial in adjusting financing rates.

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Isaac Crawford Jul 26, 2017

You're right, the Experimental Farm will provide key insights surrounding what inputs will be required to create a successful farm in Malawi.
An important role of the farm will be to see if it is adaptable to the smaller land holding sizes of Malawi. Most farmers use plots far smaller than the one acre given for the Experimental Farm, and with population density rising around key market centres (such as Blantyre), the ability to be scaled will be key. The farm in future will thus provide useful information for prospective social consulting projects.

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Amber Johnston Jun 30, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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