A lot of Malawians have benefited from the One Village One Product (Ovop) initiative which started in 2005 when the government of Malawi borrowed the concept from Oita Prefecture in Japan with an objective of promoting value addition of raw materials by people from a same area.
Different cooperatives across the country, which were formed to add value to raw materials, have made outstanding local products ranging from crisps made from Irish potatoes, mushroom production, wine production and juice production among others.
Jica Malawi Office, which sponsors some of the Ovop activities, organised a media tour around its projects within the country to appreciate the outcome of the relationship between Japan and African countries.
Chairperson of a Mzuzu based Tisange Mushroom Cooperative, Joyce Mtawali, said their group has 20 members and their lives have been uplifted from sales of the mushrooms in different major shops in the country.
“We have benefited a lot from Jica because they mentored us with knowledge of mushroom production. We produce our own mushrooms and the business is quite viable because all we need to produce is plastic paper and soap but we get a 100 percent profit,” she said.
Another Ovop cooperative in Nanchengwa Village in the area of Traditional Authority Chanthunya in Balaka, Liwinza Honey and Wine Cooperative Society Limited, has managed to build its own factory.
Treasurer of the cooperative, Lucy Chitsulo, said the group makes about K100,000 per month from sales of honey.
“From honey sales we generate a lot of money compared to the money we generate from sales of wine, we sale our products at trade fairs and also at Ovop shops across the country, we are making a living out of these productions,” she said.
Since 2005, Jica has been providing technical assistance for the promotion of Ovop programme and it will cease its assistance in April next year.
Jica Communications Officer, Michael Malewezi, said since 2005 Jica has been providing technical assistance for the promotion of Ovop programme.
“Some notable successes of the programme are the formation of various cooperatives in Malawi with an objective of supporting the cooperatives to market their products and also some members have managed to buy assets,” he said.
Malewezi further said although the technical assistance of Ovop will end in April next year, Japan through Jica will continue supporting the government in different aspects of technical cooperation.
“Jica will stop supporting Ovop Programme in Malawi but the government of Malawi through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism will continue with the programme through Ovop Secretariat,” he said.
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