By Kondwani Magombo
Mangochi, Mana: A Cooperative of young women aged below 35 who ply their fishing business at Msaka fishing dock went smiling all the way over the week end after getting a K26.7 million grant from Agricultural Commercialisation (AGCOM).
The cooperative, Fish Land Ladies, was among the 20 producer organisations across the country who qualified for the AGCOM’s US$30million Word Bank-funded Matching Grants Project aimed at promoting small scale producers working in associations.
The grants disbursement, the third since AGCOM embarked on the project, took place at Msaka in Traditional Authority Nankumba in Mangochi.
Fish Land Ladies Chairperson, Dolla Chinangwa, got excitement after receiving the grant, saying it will fulfil their projected goal of becoming a financially stable fishing enterprise.
“We will use this to boost our business. We will buy additional fishing boats and gear so that we boost our catch,” Chinangwa told Malawi News Agency in an interview.
She added: “We are also planning to purchase a vehicle which will be used in making deliveries.”
Chinangwa said the grant will also help them to complete constructing a warehouse, a project that had stalled due to insufficient resources.
Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Principal Secretary, Erica Maganga, commended the inclusion of the youth and women in the AGCOM’s Matching Grants Project, saying the move will help reduce unemployment.
Maganga described women as major players in agriculture and that their inclusion in such grants is commendable.
“We are happy with this group of young women which has managed to buy a fishing boat. They are employing men to go into the waters to catch fish and with this grant, we look forward to seeing them achieving more,” she explained.
AGCOM National Coordinator, Teddie Nakhumwa said the organisation has so far disbursed the Matching Grants to 31 producer associations in the country with a 55 per cent women representation.
He said the organisation has committed about US$5.4 million with US$1.2m already accessed in the first phase.
“The absorption rate of the funds so far is 35 per cent, so we are speeding up the processes so that we disburse Matching Grants worth US$30 million (over K23.7 billion) to 250 groups across the country by 2023,” said Nakhumwa.
AGCOM Project started in 2017 after government accessed a loan worth US$95 million (over K75.3 billion) from World Bank with US$30 million (over K23.7 billion) allocated to Matching Grants while the rest were committed to other projects in roads, electricity and irrigation.