This article was originally written by CNFA.
Madisi Agro-Processors Cooperative Society (MAPCOOP) Limited is a community business organization in Malawi, with 729 members (359 women). The cooperative, formally registered on June 4th 2013, promotes crop diversification – particularly targeting former tobacco farmers – into peanuts, soy beans, sunflowers, Jatropha curcas nuts, hibiscus, and maize. MAPCOOP also processes some of these crops into products such as cooking oil, livestock feed, and organic fertilizer.
By 2014, the cooperative was routinely supplying large local and international processing companies with raw or semi-processed products, and by year’s end it had sold $23,300 in maize, peanuts, soybeans, sunflower, cooking oil from soy bean and sunflower, soybean and sunflower cake, baobab juice and oil, jatropha oil and organic fertilizer. With some of its bigger buyers they were requesting a Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) certification, which the cooperative did not have. MAPCOOP put in a request for a volunteer for technical assistance.
In September 2015 CNFA F2F deployed a volunteer aimed at supporting its preparation to pass the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) test for certification. A seal of approval from MBS generally opens doors to more lucrative deals and it was imperative that Madisi got this. CNFA deployed Brittny Flues, a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certified food scientist from Michigan and a first time F2F volunteer to advise MAPCOOP. Her assignment aimed to establish quality assurance and food hygiene measures in the cooperative’s processing of various products in advance of the MBS audit. In order to accomplish this, Ms. Flues first observed MAPCOOP operations and identified potential risks to food safety. Then she went on to train the manager and all factory workers on the basics of food science, good manufacturing practices, sanitation, food defense, document control, and principles of HACCP. She also discussed the factory design and recommended modifications to the factory building itself to make sure there is a smooth flow of activities from the receipt of raw materials to the dispatch of the finished product. Ms. Flues introduced documentation for recording production, filtering records, sanitation schedules, and raw material inspections to promote traceability.
MBS auditors ultimately certified MAPCOOP; in fact, MBS praised their processing factory and commented that the cooperative had gone far beyond the minimum requirements for factories of their size. Furthermore, MAPCOOP received a grant under the Malawi Enterprise Productivity Enhancement (MEPE) program funded by the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Malawi Government Ministry of Industry and Trade. Under the grant, MAPCOOP has acquired an oil refinery machine and now they will be able to produce refined oil (ready for human consumption). Through this partnership with MEPE, the cooperative has signed a contract with Police Training School in Blantyre where they will be supplying cooking oil. Additionally, MEPE will provide trainings on how to use the oil refinery machine as well as provide uniforms for the factory workers.