Project Everest

Work Update

That's A Wrap!

by
Georgie Scott
Georgie Scott | Feb 23, 2018 | in Agriculture Assessment

The Feb Agriculture Assessment team is wrapping up our month here in Malawi! It has been four weeks of maize, meetings, market analysis and more maize. After achieving four of our five monthly goals, it is safe to say that this team is plum-tuckered. 

After the decision was made to cease operations on the farm, our monthly goals pivoted to focus more so on empathising with smallholder farmers, gathering important data from agriculture research stations and developing an understanding of various supply chains in Blantyre. 

 

1. Conduct 30 surveys of businesses and market stall vendors ✅

The intent: Find out what these businesses are looking for in their produce, their current method of obtaining produce and any pains they experience with this process. 

Our findings validated the assumption that businesses are looking for fresh, high quality produce. They prefer to source locally, however, face issues of consistency, storage and price fluctuations. 

Market stall vendors often struggle with accessing transport to and from the market. Sourcing produce takes a large amount of time and the vendors struggle with wastage of excess produce. 

 

2. Conduct 60 farmer survey ✅

The intent: Find out why farmers have lack of access to markets and how they currently sell their produce.

Out of the sixty farmers we surveyed, only one had consistent customers. The majority of farmers felt that middlemen were stealing their profits. Farmers accessed the market using unreliable public transport, bicycles or by walking. These modes of transport usually took hours at a time. 

 

3. Collect data from Bvumbwe Research Station ✅

The intent: Build up an understanding of best practice in Malawi, so that a new blueprint can be formulated off this research.

Miscellaneous documents have been collected, from both Bvumbwe Research Station and Kasinthula Research Station. Perhaps the most important document we have collected is a case study funded by the Australian International Food Security Research Centre, ‘Connecting Farmers to High Value Markets in Malawi: The Case Study of Smallholder Vegetable Growers in Ntcheu District’. Action points recommended by this study saw farmers competing at the marketplace on the basis of quality rather than price. Moving forward, this will be extremely beneficial. 

 

4. Test our own distribution service 3 times ❌

The intent: Gage the difficulties associated with, and process of, operating a distribution service.

Unfortunately, simply due to timing, we were unable to carry this out. Nevertheless, we feel that this would be an invaluable exercise for future teams.

 

5. Shadow 1 supply chain ✅

The intent: Understand the difficulties faced by farmers, identify price increases at different touch points during the supply chain, observe the way produce is handled/stored.

The team arose at 3am on Tuesday of the fourth week, met with a local farmer named Dixie, and walked 5km with him from his farm to the market carrying a 40L tub of tomatoes. The produce travelled from Dixie’s farm, to Bvumbwe markets, Limbe markets, Nancholi and then finally found its way to a local village. The inefficiencies in this process are clear. 

 

Please read our attached handover documents for more details. 

 

There is undoubtedly so much potential for the Agriculture Assessment in Malawi. Very keen to see what is next!!!

 

edited on Feb 23, 2018 by Georgie Scott

Amber Johnston Jun 30, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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