Washington — The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) June 15 announced a $1 million investment grant to Malawi’s dairy sector at the 11th U.S.-Sub-Saharan African Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the AGOA Forum.
The $1 million investment, spread across seven dairy-sector projects in Malawi, will work to improve production and develop domestic and export markets and a nutritional food supply in several marginalized communities.
The dairy sector is a “Feed the Future” priority in Malawi because it has high potential as a growth-oriented value product. The project will help expand animal feed and milk production with local farmers.
In response to the spike in global food prices in 2007–2008, President Obama pledged $3.5 billion to help poor countries fight hunger by investing in agricultural development. The U.S. government’s “Feed the Future” Initiative utilizes innovation, research and development to improve agricultural productivity, link farmers to local and regional markets, enhance nutrition and build safety nets.
In making the announcement, USADF board member Mimi Alemayehou said the grant will strengthen the household income and nutrition of almost 4,000 smallholder farmers and some 20,000 family members.
USADF President Lloyd Pierson told the Forum that USADF provides financing so Africans “can do the work” they need to do. “In Africa, we have no American staff. We believe that Africans can take care of their own destiny, can do the economic development work that is done. We only have Africans who are managing our programs.”
Representing the government of Malawi, Newby Kumwembe, the principal secretary in Malawi’s ministry of industry and trade, told the forum the government of Malawi recognizes the “vast potential” the private sector has to contribute to the improvement of economically disadvantaged Malawians.
Continuing, he said the country’s dairy industry is “capable of becoming a fulcrum in a robust value chain” that will create enormous job opportunities. He saluted the U.S. government for its work in strengthening small enterprises and cooperatives in Malawi.”
He said the Malawian government is thankful to the partnership it is building with the U.S. government that is “crucial and important in empowering citizens with both financial and technical assistance … that is contributing to the food security and well-being of rural Malawians.”
Mary Malunga, partner director of the National Association of Business Women in Malawi, who also attended the ceremony, said the investment is a major component to reducing extreme poverty in Malawi.
“More farmers are now able to increase their household incomes because USADF has provided both the capital and the training services needed to move small farmers to the next level,” she said.
USADF President Pierson said 100 percent of the $1 million grant goes to Malawi without any monies going to contractors or middlemen. “That is $1 million directly to create income. Our data shows that for every $1 that is committed, at least $3.6 are generated.”
That would mean that $1 million would create $3.6 million in economic development activity in those communities, he added.
In an interview after the announcement, Pierson said it is important to help people at the very “economic bottom rung” of society.
“When an individual for the first time in their life can support their family, can earn an income, you see a remarkable change,” he said. “You can look on the financial side, for the first time they are consumers and buying products … but the real effect is a human effect of dignity.”