Macademia Project, Neno, Malawi
The project is funded by SUNESMA (Support to Neno Smallholder Macadamia Farmers). Peter Stedman, a post-graduate volunteer from Silsoe Agricultural College, stayed at Neno for the first year of this project. Peter’s work during this year highlighted a number of issues such as:
* Robustness or the lack of in the local organisations;
* Direction or the lack of in the local NGO organizations;
* Eagerness in the rural farmers to learn and succeed and the continued impact of drought years.
Pic: Green macademia nuts from Malawi
The main achievement of the project is that at the end of the second years’ planting season, over 4,000 macadamia trees have been planted. Together with those that were in place before the project started, there are now over 5,000 trees. In support of this successful start, some interested parties in UK are now developing a proposal to support a larger post-harvest and marketing support intervention, anticipating the medium-term future needs of the project.
Due to the effects of the current food crisis low levels of food security feature among the household characteristics of project beneficiaries. This has been combated by the project providing a small pack of maize seed and fertilizer to the 220 club members for dimba maize production.
This intervention goes some way towards developing the concept of an association-based solution to local problems; that members benefit from being members as opposed to individuals. This is the form of social capital development that the project is aiming to achieve. Peter and his colleagues worked very hard to increase the capacity of the members as well as the diversity of the project and this level of cooperative group resource management is often hard to achieve in larger projects and is an asset of the steady development of the SUNESMA association. Ensuring that this cohesive approach of the community continues is a major objective of the project.
The emphasis for future volunteers will be on training in production of rootstock macadamia and apple seedlings and the key role of development of strategic plans for scaling up IGA’s and use of association finances and refining technical skills in IGA’s.
Summary Provided by Peter Stedman & Andrew Emmott, Photos by Nick Jevans.