The Chithumba Model: Combining Pre-Harvest Financing, GAP Training, and Access to Markets for Smallholder Farmers in Malawi

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Between 2015 and 2018, ATL, in partnership with the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE), implemented a non-traditional finance mechanism called the Chithumba model in five districts across Malawi. As Figure 1 illustrates, the Chithumba model offers a bundled service that includes loans, inputs, GAP training, and marketing services. The model served a total of 7,400 smallholder soya farmers over three seasons.

  1. Pre-Harvest Finance for Farm Inputs – To improve agricultural productivity, selected farmers that met screening criteria received an inputs package on credit. It included soybean seed and inoculant, which clients repaid in-kind upon harvest with bags of grain.
  2. Agricultural Extension Services –To ensure efficient use of inputs, enrolled farmers received GAP information through a combination of training days, field visits, demonstration plots, and customized agri-extension messages distributed via SMS.
  3. Market Assistance – To improve accessibility to more favourable market prices, enrolled farmers received trainings on ACE services (i.e. trade facilitation, warehouse receipt system and market information) and SMS messages about market prices and trade opportunities. These services were provided free of charge for all clients.

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