Farmers in Senior Chief Chilooko in Ntchisi District have commended Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (Trade) programme for facilitating creation of cooperatives in their area.
Speaking on Monday when Trade Programme and Development Aid from People to People (Dapp) officials visited the farmers, Joyce Chisinga of Masokole Cooperative said they are now strong doing business as a group instead of individuals.
She said despite soya bean rust disease that has affected most farmers in the district, they still have hope as a cooperative.
Said Chisinga: “With cooperatives, many things are easy. Buying and selling produce is cheap. For instance, our soya has been attacked by rust, but by joining forces, the risk is spread to all.
“The other advantage is that our business has improved as we are able to obtain better prices and services.”
Group village head Kambiri said apart from improving yield and nutrition in his community, Trade programme will also protect farmers from unscrupulous vendors who exploit them.
Trade commodity specialist Annie Matiti said the programme seeks to promote agriculture commercialisation among smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods.
She said: “To achieve that, we are promoting dairy farming in the South.
“In the Central Region, we are promoting soya bean, groundnuts, sunflower and potato and in the North we are focusing on honey and beef.”
Dapp country director Moses Chibwana said the programme has started well, adding that he hopes it will transform people’s lives.
Trade programme targeting 127 000 support from the Opec Fund and International Fund for Agriculture.