Rab Processors Limited has partnered Agriculture Commodities Exchange (ACE) for Africa in a project that seeks to help 15 000 smallholder farmers have access to finance and markets.
This week, the two organisations started holding meetings to raise awareness on the opportunities available to farmers. The project will also see the partners building warehouses in Kasungu and Dedza whereas in Mchinji the structure has already been finalised.
The project comes against the background of concerns from several organisations in the agriculture sector as well as development partners who have lamented the plight of smallholder farmers. The general observation has been that smallholder farmers least benefit from their hard-earned produce.
Speaking during the awareness meetings and launch of the warehouse in Mchinji, Rab Processors agribusiness officer Innocent Manda said smallholder farmers continue to be exploited by vendors and the infrastructure seeks to minimise such problems.
He said: “You see, this warehouse will serve two purposes. We are doing spot sells of soya. We started this over a month ago and we are buying maize as well as provide warehouse receipt system to farmers who don’t feel like selling soon after harvest.”
ACE programmes coordinator Jacob Kumwenda said farmers will also have an opportunity to access finance through the warehouse receipt system.
He said in the absence of the warehouse facility, farmers were selling their produce against their will as they had poor storage facilities.
“We are hoping that farmers will open up and use this facility to its capacity. When that happens, it will be the farmer who will benefit, no one else,” he said
The facility has attracted the interest of many farmers with over 71 000 metric tonnes of soya sold since its opening in mid-April. n