Zuwe Agro-processors Cooperative Society Limited is a community Agro-based organisation that was formed by farmers around Mpherembe area in 2007. The Society got its certification with the Malawi Government through the Ministry of Industry and Trade as limited liability cooperative society on 27th April 2012. The society represents resource poor farmers from rural areas and is working in Mzimba District Council, particularly in the following Traditional Authorities (T/A): Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa, Chindi, Mthwalo and Mpherembe. Currently, the Cooperative has 1,699 shareholders (Women 882, Men 584, Girls 132 and Finally Boys 101). Jointly they own 2989 shares each valued at MK 5,000.00. Mpherembe Trading Centre in the area of Senior Traditional Authority Mpherembe is its Headquarters.
The formation of the Cooperative dates back to the year 2002 during UDF era, when Government and other stakeholders in agriculture sector advised the tobacco farmers not to rely on tobacco only because of the declining world market prices for tobacco and indeed the global campaign against smoking in public. Instead, farmers had to diversify into other crops like Soya, Sunflower, Maize and Ground nuts. Having ventured into other crops, still more problem emerged which was unavailability of sustainable markets. For this reason, farmers decided to group themselves and form a cooperative with the purpose of employing value addition strategy to their farm produce for better marketing and improve profitability.
In the Cooperative every member has an equal power and right regardless of number of shares one holds in the cooperative, every member has a right to voted (one vote) or voted for at the Annual General assembly. The governance structure of the cooperative includes the Shareholders, Board of Directors and Management. The shareholders are further grouped into smaller workable groups called clubs or zones. The clubs in each Extension Planning Area then elects an EPA executive committee to coordinate cooperative activities within the EPA. The Board of Directors is democratically elected at the AGM, where every member in attendance has the right to vote or voted for so long one meets minimum qualification criteria. The board of directors is made up of thirteen members (Chair, Vice, Secretary, Vice, Treasurer and nine board members) A board member selves for a maximum of two terms and each term is three years. The elected board of Directors employs a Cooperative Manager to provide strategic direction for the cooperative. The cooperative manager’s then employs supporting staff. The management provides extension services to the members.
In terms of reporting, the management reports direct to the Board of Directors while members also report some to the Board. All administrative issues are reported to the management. The Duty of the Board of Directors is to make sure that approved activities are being done according to its intended purpose or in line with objectives set aside by the general assembly. Members’ input/proposed initiatives/ programmes are consolidated during Annual General Meeting or special general assembly. The society also has a constitution which governs its activities and members and also the following policies are in place and functional:
- Accounting Policy
- Agricultural Revolving Manual Policy
- Human Resource and Procedures Policy
- HIV and Gender Policy
- General Strategic Plan
- Production, Quality Control, Food Hygiene and safety manual policy
Improved livelihood for all members through food self-sufficiency and improved income levels.
To have households that have sustainable food security through agro-based activities; promotion of value addition technologies and marketing while coexisting with nature in order to maintain the productivity, physiological, cultural and ecological functions of natural resources which will lead to social-economic growth and development.