Zainab Chisenga Manonga l Palladium - May 29 2024
U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Palladium Projects in Malawi

The delegation at the Growth Poles visit. 

In late March, U.S. Senator Patty Murray led a congressional delegation on a tour of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) investments in Malawi to understand how the U.S. Government support is improving lives of people in the country.

During the visit, the delegation toured MOMENTUM Tiyeni and Feed the Future Growth Poles Project sites in Lilongwe. Implemented by Palladium, the two projects leverage public and private sector partnerships to support Malawi’s health, food security, and economic outcomes.


During the visit, the delegation stopped at Bwaila Hospital, a district hospital boasting the busiest maternity ward in Southern Africa, with an average of 1,500 births per month. Bwaila is one of the facilities supported by the Tiyeni project. At Bwaila, the delegation got to see the support that the U.S. Government is providing to the people of Malawi in action.

“From the questions they were asking, and they asked a lot of them, it seemed the delegates were really interested to understand how the support the U.S. Government is giving to Malawi is being used in the health sector,” explains Olive Mtema, MOMENTUM Chief of Party.

They also learned about the technical and financial support the project provides to the health system. This is done through the procurement of equipment that improves the quality of care, integration of health services in community outreach clinics, and clinical and community linkages for women and children’s continuation of care once they’re discharged from health facilities.

The delegation was particularly interested in how the Tiyeni project is addressing nutrition needs and deficiencies in pregnant women, children, and adolescent girls. It’s a critical issue as President Lazarus Chakwera recently declared a state of disaster in 23 districts in Malawi due to the prolonged drought that destroyed crops this farming season. This dry spell has created a very immediate issue of hunger and nutritional deficiency among many Malawians, often women and children.

“We are ready to share expertise and new technologies on how to ensure agriculture survives the droughts,” said Senator Murray in a statement. Tiyeni’s work in nutrition involves growth monitoring of children under five, mentoring service providers in nutritional rehabilitation units, auditing nutritional deaths to improve nutritional service delivery, and strengthening connections with local health centres to support the nutritional continuum of care beyond health facilities.

“Ultimately they seemed impressed with how we are supporting the Government of Malawi in improving healthcare,” Mtema adds. “They were there to confirm and understand the quality of the services and if there were any gaps and if so, how we were addressing them, so I’d say that the objective of their visit was met.”

Growth Poles

The delegation also visited Gala Agriculture Company Limited (Gala Macs), a Malawian macadamia company that is both the largest in Malawi and Africa, and the fifth largest in the world.

Growth Poles is collaborating with Gala Macs and some of their principal investors, like Signature Agri, to help develop and expand the macadamia industry using investments in the sector that will create hundreds more jobs, increase access to markets for macadamia farmers, and capture greater revenue for Malawi. Together, this collaboration will increase the number of smallholder family farmers successfully building their diversified agricultural income bases so they are better prepared for future shocks and a changing climate, as well as able to afford to send their children to better schools and health care.

“Throughout the visit, the delegation showed a keen interest to understand how the collaboration between Gala Macs and the Growth Poles Project directly improves the livelihoods of families, women, and youth in Malawi,” explains Tate Munro, Growth Poles Chief of Party.

The Project is assisting Gala Macs to build their smallholder macadamia intercropping model so family farmers can grow macadamia trees alongside food and cash crops like peanuts, soybeans, sunflower, and sweet potatoes. But it doesn’t stop there; Munro adds that Growth Poles assisted Gala Macs to procure a pilot stock of beehives as honeybees increase macadamia yields 10-30%. Gala is using that pilot to create hundreds of new local jobs in carpentry and joinery producing their next 8,000 beehives, and for women as ‘bee shepherds’ being paid to care for the hives and bees, for which they will share in the profits from each of their hives.

Once at full scale, Gala Macs’ honey operation will make it the largest in Africa – demonstrating how a relatively small but strategic investment in the right partnerships can catalyse transformative impact at scale in Malawi. “Today we visited a macadamia farm that is beginning to reach out to the communities, delivering both new varieties of macadamia that smallholder farmers can cultivate and partnering with local communities in beekeeping,” said Senator Chris Coons to a reporter after the visit.

“This is just one of many ways in which Feed the Future has tried to increase not just the productivity of smallholder farmers but also the value that Malawi can gain from agricultural production by not being just producers of basic commodities but also processors and to get extra value from accessing the American Market.”

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