At a time when unscrupulous traders are offering low prices on the market, a Legumes Enterprise Structured Production (Lesp) project has come to the rescue of about 7 500 farmers from 10 districts in the country.
The project, being manned by Community Savings and Investment Promotion (Comsip) under the legumes value chain promotion, seeks to counter some structural problems in the agriculture productivity sector that perpetuate rural poverty both on the demand and supply side for farmers in beans, soya and pigeon peas farming.
In an interview with Business News on Thursday, Comsip agribusiness officer Ernest Jumbe said on the demand side, the markets are not organised at community level. Thus, leaving farmers to the exploits of vendors, while on the supply market, the production of various staple and cash crops is not structured.
“Comsip provides inputs for its members who have the capacity and willingness to contribute towards their proportional allocation in the matching grant as well as identify markets for the farmers.
“The response from farmers has been overwhelming as this is the second year the project has been running. We started with five districts but due to the demand, we scaled up to 10 districts and we are thinking of even expanding further to other districts for the third season,” he said.
Jumbe said that as a livelihood project, the programme has helped improve the productivity and production of the smallholder farmers, increased their incomes and improved nutrition of the members.
In a separate interview, a beneficiary Febbie Gondwe from Uliwa in Karonga, said her livelihood and that of her members has greatly improved following her attachment to Comsip.
“We have been able to learn business management skills as well as networking and we have been able to create business linkages through Comsip, a thing which has also uplifted our welfare.
“The group’s businesses have also assisted in providing employment to some community members who are earning a living through wages,” she said.