Malawi Government-sponsored One Village One Product (Ovop) Project has admitted having committed unprecedented gaffes in the implementation of the initiative that was modeled from Japan to fight abject poverty in the country.
The admission is in reaction to a series of investigative stories Weekend Nation has published recently to evaluate successes and challenges and determine the future of the project.
In an emailed interview this week, Ovop national coordinator, Kamia Kaluma-Sulumba, confirmed the project is facing challenges to register success in empowering the poor to lift themselves out of poverty.
But Kamia-Sulumba was quick to defend the failures, arguing it would be a fallacy to expect a perfect setup of the project within a space of 10 years.
“We’re still in the learning curve. As a matter of fact, Japan, where the concept was borrowed from, took 30 years to reach where they are,”she explained.
He said they are taking solace in the fact that some groups are excelling in their endeavors.
She singled out Kamwendo Cooking Oil Processing Group in Mchinj; Bwanje Rice Group in Dedza; Wovwe Rice Group in Karonga; Mapanga Honey in Mulanje; Chisenga Honey in Chitipa; Mkondezi Wine in Nkhata Bay; Livingstonia Honey in Rumphi, and Mzimba Gemstone Group in Mzimba as the groups that have performed well over the past years.
Kaluma-Sulumba said these groups have done extremely well on the marketing side while others are excelling in addressing issues of quality and loan repayment.
She attributed their success to good leadership within the group as well as dedicated Ovop officers based at the district councils.
“But this doesn’t mean these groups are free of challenges, they still face different challenges which they are still working on to address and we’re working together with them.
“Some groups are struggling because of poor leadership; lack of working capital to buy raw materials as well as lack of full comprehension of the Ovop concept that it is not a funding mechanism, but rather means to help communities build what they have locally and promote the same so that they are empowered,” explained the coordinator.
Meanwhile, one of the people behind the introduction of the concept into Malawi, John Chikago, told Nation on Sunday that a Japanese delegation will be jetting into the country in a week’s time to share notes with relevant authorities on the implementation of Ovop projects.