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An Overview of NASFAM
The National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi (NASFAM) is the largest independent, smallholder-owned membership organisation in Malawi. It is founded on the principles of collective action and is democratically governed by its members. All NASFAM's operations are guided by its vision to be: “the leading smallholder-owned business and development organisation in Malawi, producing economic and social benefits for members, their communities and the country”. with the mission of NASFAM being: “to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Through a sustainable network of smallholder-owned business organisations, NASFAM promotes farming as a business in order to develop the commercial capacity of its members, and delivers programmes which enhance member productivity” The NASFAM concept grew out of a USAID funded project to support and organise smallholder tobacco production. Since 1995, the NASFAM focus has diversified production to other cash and food crops. NASFAM, as it is now, was legally registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act in February 1998.

Where does NASFAM work?
NASFAM operates nationwide across Malawi, with fieldbased operations focused around offices in Karonga, Rumphi, South Mzimba, Kasungu, Ntchisi, Nkhotakota, Mchinji, Lilongwe North and South, Ntcheu, Balaka, Namwera, Zomba and Mulanje.

Mixed Crops


Paprika Birds Eye Chillies Cotton Groundnuts


Rice Expansion Areas Cities Game Parks

Photo: Simon de Trey-White

South Mzimba


Nkhotakota Ntchisi


Mchinji Lilongwe


NASFAM services to members

NASFAM provides its members with support and guidance on how to organise Balaka themselves to farm as a business. This includes advice and technical support on crop selection and production, training on agronomic practices, access to inputs, field crop management, harvesting and post-harvest management.



In addition, NASFAM provides marketing support, facilitating the bulking of member crops to secure access to the most profitable markets for reliable income. Members are also provided with community support to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS, increase gender equality and food security, as well as ensuring that the voice of the smallholder is heard through policy lobbying and advocacy.

Who are NASFAM members?
Around 80% of Malawi's population depend on smallholder farming for their livelihood. Like most Malawian smallholder farmers, an average NASFAM member farms less than one hectare of land to support a family of six people. Membership is both men and women, and NASFAM’s gender programme ensures equitable participation of both sexes in farming and Association leadership. Member crop production is typically a 60:40 split between cash and food crops.

Photos: Simon de Trey-White

Crops supported by NASFAM
NASFAM promotes diversification away from dependency on maize and tobacco, and thus supports production and marketing of crops such as groundnuts, chilli, rice, soya, beans, sunflower and others as appropriate to market demand.

How is NASFAM organised?
NASFAM is organised into a unique extension network to support its membership of around 100,000 smallholder farmers. The smallest operational unit of NASFAM is the Club, made up of 10-15 individual farmers. Clubs combine to form Action Groups which are the key points in the extension network for dissemination of information to members, and for the bulking of member crops. Action Groups combine to form NASFAM's Associations, of which there were 40 in 2007-08.
National Board of Directors National Assembly Association Committee General Assembly Action Committee Action Group Club Individual Members

company and a legally registered NGO. Both are governed by a Farmer Board, democratically elected each year by the membership.
Membership provides comprehensive field training

NASFAM's Strategic Priorities
The current five year Strategic Development Plan (SDP) runs from 20062011 and addresses the challenges that face NASFAM in its mission to improve member livelihoods. These include the need to increase member loyalty and membership numbers, to increase crop production and commercial marketing capacities, and to develop the capacity of staff and systems to support these operations. As such, the initial strategic priority is to improve and increase service delivery to members, subsequently moving towards increasing NASFAM's capacity for rural productivity and innovation. Reflecting these priorities, the SDP will work towards six key results areas (KRAs): · · · · increased commercial revenue and profit improved crop quality and quantity enhanced Association performance expanded member livelihoods expanded influence on policy enhanced systems performance

NASFAM Associations are legally registered entities, member-owned and managed by farmer Boards. The Associations are grouped by geographical location under 14 Association Management Centres (AMCs). These provide management and operational support to the Associations in terms of production, marketing and community development. The AMCs are in turn supported by the NASFAM Regional and Head Office structures.

Commercial and Development
NASFAM functions are split into Commercial and Development activities. NASFAM Commercial activities include the marketing of inputs to farmers and produce from farmers. NASFAM Development activities deliver community development and capacity building services to members. NASFAM's Commercial and Development operations are respectively divided between an independently registered for-profit






Board of Directors/ Trustees

NASFAM Commercial
(Limited Liability Company)

NASFAM Development
(Registered Trust)

· ·

Photo: Camilla Mellemstrand

How does NASFAM benefit its members?
By increasing commercial revenue and profit
Through the network of Associations, NASFAM facilitates the procurement, bulking and transport of member produce to the point of sale. NASFAM works to identify and secure domestic, regional and international markets for member produce. For example, groundnuts are sold to both Malawian and South African companies, as well as the European Fair Trade market which provides an additional premium for community development as well as a fair market price for the crop.
Photo: Simon de Trey-White

farmer efforts. NASFAM delivers this through an extension network of field-based technical assistance and support.

By expanding member livelihoods
NASFAM works with member communities to protect their livelihoods. Programmes are run to mitigate against the impact of HIV/AIDS on the smallholder farming community, through awareness raising on prevention of infection. To care for and support those already infected, members are trained on how to improve nutrition and food security, using indigenous crops and labour saving practices such as drip irrigation and permaculture. Members are also sensitised on good individual and community practices with relation to issues of gender equality, child labour and food security. Adult literacy training is a priority to ensure that members are equipped with the necessary skills to manage their farming activities

By improving crop quality and quantity

By expanding influence on policy
NASFAM lobbies on behalf of smallholders to ensure their voices are heard and their needs are considered. NASFAM takes part in various policy fora, representing issues raised by the smallholder members, such as trade and taxation issues, Government policy and programme implementation.

By enhancing Association performance
As a farmer-owned and democratically run membership organisation, NASFAM helps build the capacity of members to manage and own their Associations, through training in leadership, committee strengthening and farming as a business. In addition Association staff and farmer leaders are provided with training on farming as a business so that they can support

+265 (0) 1 772 866 or website

Photo: Simon de Trey-White

Members are provided with technical support to increase crop quality and yield, working in collaboration with external research partners on new varieties and techniques as appropriate. Much of the production capacity building work is done through NASFAM's Farmer to Farmer Training Programme, where progressive members are trained to train fellow members on successful and best-bet techniques for: · Selection of seed and use of fertiliser and chemicals · Land preparation, planting and crop husbandry techniques · Provision of crop production estimates for marketing plans · Harvest and post-harvest techniques for drying, grading etc NASFAM also promotes good practice in natural resource management, facilitating tree planting initiatives and farming techniques that are environmentally sustainable. NASFAM is also working in conjunction with other organisations to improve productivity through access to irrigation technology.

By enhancing systems performance
To keep members up to date, they are provided with topical information on all aspects of farming as a business and community development, from the twice-weekly NASFAM radio programme, quarterly newsletters and specialist crop bulletins. To ensure that the NASFAM system performs effectively, a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation programme is in place to measure progress and impact on members' lives. This is supported by a systems coordination function of financial, human resource, IT and administration services. For more information on NASFAM please contact us on:…...

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