NASFAM Malawi: ownership of the research process influences its use in advocacy
The National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), founded in 1997, is the largest independent, smallholder-owned membership organisation in Malawi. NASFAM is organised into a unique extension network to support its membership of over 100,000 smallholder farmers. The smallest operational unit of NASFAM is the Club, made up of 10 to 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 members’ crops. Action Groups combine to form NASFAM Associations, of which there were 40 in 2007-2008. NASFAM Associations are legally-registered entities, member-owned and managed by farmer Boards. The Associations are grouped by geographical location into 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. 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 Commercial and Development operations are governed by a Farmer Board, which is elected democratically by the membership each year.
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