The One Village One Product (Ovop) project says the problems it is facing are part of the learning process for a concept borrowed from Japan in 2003.
Ovop national coordinator Kamia Kaluma-Sulumba said the project is facing challenges to empower the poor to lift themselves out of poverty.
Kaluma-Sulumba was reacting to a Weekend Nation Investigates series that cast the spotlight on the project.
She said it is wrong to expect a perfect set-up for a project that has been operating for 10 years.
“We are 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,” said Kaluma-Sulumba.
She said there are some Ovop groups that are making significant strides in establishing themselves as business entities.
Kaluma-Sulumbe said some of the groups that have performed well over the years are 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.
Kaluma-Sulumba said the groups have done extremely well on the marketing side whereas others are excelling in addressing issues of quality and loan repayment.
She attributed their success to good leadership as well as dedicated Ovop officers based at 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 are 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 a means to help communities build what they have locally and promote the same so that they are empowered,” said Kaluma-Sulumba.