Aubrey Meki Chilenje
POSTED 21st February 2020

Chilenje has been a farmer with Kasinthula Cane Growers’ Association (KCG) since 2005. His job involves planting, weeding and harvesting sugar. As a member of Kasinthula, he has a say in how the association spends the Fairtrade Premium.

Malawi map

Chilenje lives in the Ntondeza village in the Chikwawa district of Malawi. He is married with four children. His friends and family call him Chilenje and he is happy for us to call him Chilenje too during his visit to the UK.

Kasinthula Cane Growers’ Association (KCG)

KCG is a smallholder sugar cane project that was set up in 1996 as part of a joint venture with the Malawian government and a nearby sugar mill, now operated by Illovo Sugar, Africa’s biggest sugar producer. An area of largely unproductive land was converted to sugar cane production to increase the supply of raw cane to the mill while providing an income for 762 subsistence farmers. The initiative now also provides employment for more than 800 permanent and seasonal field workers.

Kasinthula has been Fairtrade certified since 2002 and now sells its entire production of around 8,000 tonnes of sugar to Fairtrade buyers (including Divine Chocolate). KCG negotiates a contract price with Illovo mill for its sugar cane and is paid an additional Fairtrade Premium of $60 for each tonne of processed cane sugar. The Fairtrade Premium has been invested in improving sugar cane productivity and in healthcare, clean water, education and other projects to alleviate poverty in the community.

Changing weather patterns, unpredictable rainfalls, higher than average temperatures and low market sugar prices are challenges that members of the Kasinthula Cane Growers’ Association face. In particular, heavy flooding in 2015 and 2017 severely affected the farmers’ yields, household property and livestock.