Diversifying production, building more resilient communities

Since 2007, Tropha Estates has been growing, processing and selling macadamias, chillies and paprika on its two hub farms in northern Malawi, and sourcing produce from over 4,000 smallholder farmers for export.

Over the last three years, Tropha has provided paprika and chili seeds and limited training to farmers and purchased 540 tonnes of their produce, injecting more than $900,000 into the local community. Building on this success, Tropha is rolling out a new outgrower scheme for macadamia nuts. The outgrower scheme includes investing in a software package to track and monitor farmer training, productivity and sales, providing specialist support in the form of integrated pest management and GlobalGap traceability, and installing year-round irrigation in an area feeling the effects of climate change.

The Challenges

Weak infrastructure, basic technology, low-quality yields, and few commercial processing and marketing enterprises in the vicinity make it difficult for smallholder farmers to get crops to market. In an area prone to drought, farmers are also feeling the pressure of climate change and the need to adapt their farming methods to drier growing seasons and to diversify the crops they grow. These challenges - combined with persistent poverty, lack of access to financial services and inputs - all stand in the way of farmers moving into higher value crops and new markets.

Our Approach

Funds from an SDU partnership are being used to strengthen the chilli and paprika outgrower scheme and get its macadamia scheme off the ground, with the aim of growing to 1,000 farmers by 2020. A farmer database has been set up for traceability and internal auditing and conversations are underway with microfinance institutions about using this database to provide farmers with access to financial services. Training and capacity building will be supported by expanded extension services and demonstration plots that showcase new technologies. A consultant will be hired to assess the feasibility and advantages of adopting outgrower certification and opportunities for enhanced pest management. 

Social Impact
Value of Partnership
The new outgrower software will capture farmer information including productivity and sales which will be used to provide a client profile information for interested microfinance institutions. This historical farmer information, combined with a secure offtaker that provides agronomic support, reduces the risk exposure for MFIs and help the farmers secure much needed input finance.
Increased income / yields
An additional 1,000 local farmers will reach export markets with high-value crops. Over three years, more than 4,000 farmers are expected to see their average household incomes increase by a minimum of $100 per annum for paprika and $200 per annum for chilli growers based on increased yields.
Women and young people are being encouraged to participate, and it is anticipated that at least 40% of the smallholder farmers will be women.
Climate Smart
Crop diversification to more drought tolerant cash crops such as African Birds Eye chilies improve farmers’ resilience in the face of frequent mid-season droughts.
Stronger Communities
Tropha is engaging with new smallholder farmers through its macadamia outgrower scheme, with plans to distribute 150,000 seedlings over three years.