Our Malawi Partnership

Visit Reflections

Former Central Co-op Board President, Jane Avery reflects on her recent visit to Malawi.

The opportunity to travel to Malawi was one that I will be forever grateful for. It increased my understanding of supply change issues, the developing world and the role we can play through trade and cooperation. The Malawi Government has a vision that by 2063 Malawi will be a country of An inclusively Wealthy and self-reliant Nation. If that doesn’t chime with Co-operative Values, then I don’t know what would.

The purpose of the visit:

My Observations

The vision for Malawi to be an inclusively wealthy nation, and self-reliant. Seems to me to be a blueprint for a co-operative nation.

Q&A with Jane Avery

We asked Jane a few quick-fire questions to capture her experience of Malawi.

How has the visit made you feel about Our Malawi Partnership?
Positive. This is Co-operation in action and change is visible and quantifiable.

What would you like to say to Central Co-op Members and customers?
The benefits of the partnership are reciprocal. By getting quality products into our stores, we are giving our Members and customers choice, and by telling the stories of the farmers we are making that choice about quality, price AND ethical values.

How will choosing Our Malawi Partnership products make a difference long-term?
With investment the price of goods from Malawi can become more competitive as their yields or production methods become more efficient. The usual price for cheap food is usually paid by the farmer or worker, but if a co-operative solution can be found to the exporting (i.e. the middleman is a co-operative middleman) then profits can be shared.

What would you like to say to the smallholder farmers and producers in Malawi?
We have a lot to learn from you! Avoid the mistakes of industrialisation with its over-reliance on plastic. Co-operatives will look after you as members, so stay loyal to your co-operative.