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The Kasinthula Cane Growers (KCG) smallholders’ project is located in the inhospitable Shire Valley region in the south of Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Southern Africa. Long droughts occasionally result in famine and the twice-yearly rains frequently bring floods. Most families eke out a living growing maize, cassava or rice on the arid land, while others earn cash from sugar cane or cotton or work on nearby sugar plantations. Poverty is rife with most people living in very basic mud huts and few able to afford to keep livestock.

Agriculture provides a livelihood for over 85% of the population, of which around 90% are smallholders. Sugar is the third biggest export earner after tobacco and tea. Development of the sugar sector is constrained by high input costs, poor rural infrastructure, inadequate health facilities, lack of agricultural support services, and lack of appropriate technology.



KCGL was jointly set up in 1996 by the state-run Sugar Corporation and a sugar mill later taken over by Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Ltd, part of Illovo Sugar, a South African-owned leading global sugar producer which dominates production in Malawi.

The project involved converting an area of largely uneconomic land to sugar cane production in order to increase the supply of raw cane to the mill and at the same time provide an income for the subsistence farmers who were barely able to grow enough food to eat. The project extends to around 1,200 hectares of land leased from the government, with individual plots of 2.5 to 3 hectares. READ MORE>>