The One Village One Product (Ovop) wants to establish a national development fund to finance its cooperatives in the country.
Ovop national coordinator Kamia Kaluma-Silumba said this in an interview over the weekend on the sidelines of the launch of Ntchisi-based Highlands Macadamia Cooperative Union Limited (Himacul).
Kaluma-Silumba said lack of access to credit is one major challenge Ovop cooperatives are facing in the country.
â€œWe have been crying for a readily available fund from which our cooperatives can borrow to buy farm produce from farmers,â€ she said.
Kaluma-Silumba said so far the institution has approached some local commercial banks and it is only NBS Bank which has responded positively by providing credit to some of its cooperatives.
She also bemoaned stiff competition between Ovop members and vendors when it comes to buying farm produce for processing.
Commenting on the overall recent performance of the institution, she said there has been progress on registering and certifying its cooperatives with the Malawi Bureau of Standard (MBS).
She said out of 105 cooperatives under Ovop, 35 are selling their products on the market, one of the success stories for the institution.
â€œRecently, MBS has certified Kamwendo Produce and Marketing Cooperative from Mchinji and we want more of our cooperatives to be certified so that we satisfy the local market first before exporting,â€ she added.
Minister of Industry and Trade John Bande, whose ministry oversees Ovop activities, could not be reached to comment on Ovopâ€™s proposal for the development fund.
But in an earlier interview in Lilongwe, Bande said most cooperatives operating under the programme have embraced value-adding technologies such as agro-processing, quality control and packaging at community level.
The minister said Ovop has also enabled facilitation of small-scale business skills development at the community level.
â€œThe Ovop concept is also promoting market linkages between products and services from villages and domestic as well as international markets,â€ he said.