Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited
At A Glance
|Where:||Kasinthula, Chikwawa District, Malawi|
|Founders:||National government of Malawi and Illovo Sugar Corporation|
|Number of employees:||900 in peak growing season|
|Total revenue:||410,350,000 Malawian kwachas (MWK) /
“Very shaky.” That’s how Brian Namata describes the financial situation now facing Kasinthula Cane Growers, Limited (KCGL), a producer-owned limited liability company where he serves as general manager. Yet KCGL also contains elements of a business model that, with a little tweaking and luck, could yet prove very successful.
Growing commodity sugarcane is always hard work, but it’s especially true in Kasinthula in southern Malawi, one of the poorest regions of one of Africa’s poorest countries. The region is beset by perpetual drought, and when it does rain, it floods. Irrigation systems are very basic and farmers are accustomed to farming for their own subsistence, not for commerce. Despite these challenges, sugar is one of Malawi’s top three exports, usually trailing only tobacco in volume and revenue.
KCGL is the country’s second biggest cooperative in the sugar industry—involving 282 farmers—and is also the world’s first non-organic cane sugar company certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). Its mission is “to grow quality cane for sugar production and earn increased returns with the aim of not only improving the farmers’ livelihoods but also those of the people within the greater Kasinthula area in line with government’s initiative to reduce poverty among rural communities.”
Although KCGL is providing its farmer-members with great opportunities, impressive community development initiatives, and certified fair trade sugar, KCGL must overcome an enormous, unwieldy debt that threatens both the company and its members’ livelihoods.