A revolutionary seed project in Malawi bringing together the University, farmers and private sector to form a unique partnership to boost the seed system, improving income and livelihood of Malawian farmers.
In Malawi, access to quality seeds of improved cultivars of crops remain a problem for many farmers’ especially smallholding farmers. Today the country’s private and public sector are not able to meet the increasing demand for high quality seeds.
USAID funded Agriculture Innovation Partnership (AIP) – Malawi project in partnership with Lilongwe University for Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) is adopting an innovative seed production and delivery model, similar to the successful Seed Village model of University of Agricultural Sciences- Dharwad in India. This seed village model has been adopted to include private players to play active role alongside the University and farmers. In this unique PPP model, the University develops and provides access to improved foundation seeds, extension support and mechanical seed processing using the newly established seed processing unit under this project, whereas the farmers take the responsibility of producing high quality certified seeds following the stringent norms of seed production. The private seed enterprise takes the responsibility of engaging with the farmers and marketing and distribution of the seeds. This initiative, once attaining its optimal scale will be a self-sustained model not only enhancing the current seed system in Malawi, but also will be the first step towards attaining self-sustenance in seed production for Malawi.
During the first year of the project, this partnership produced over 30 tons of quality-certified Beans and Cow pea seeds involving around 300 small holder farmers (including 100 women farmers), covering 90 ha of farmer fields and 10 hectares of University land. Today, Seed village model is helping farmers increase their revenue over 2.7 times (MWK490000 per ha) in comparison to their income from traditional grain production (MWK 180000 per ha) as they moved up the value chain.
Further, the dissemination of these improved seed varieties with high germination rate will eventually help in enhancing agricultural productivity of over 1000 farmers due to increased productivity of over 1.8 times (these improved cow pea varieties have potential to achieve an yield of 900kg per ha compared to current national average yield of 508.8 Kg per ha).
Prof Emmanuel Kaunda, The Deputy Vice Chancellor of LUANAR says “This initiative has brought LUANAR more closer to the farming community in the region and the private sector as never before. We see a great potential in LUANAR playing a pivotal role creating a sustainable seed system in the country”
A small holder women farmer receiving payment from CPM-Agri Enterprises towards sale of seed under seed village model in Chadza
Ida Chapuma, farmer, says, “I am producing cow pea seeds. We are very happy with this initiative. Previously, we used to sell our legumes to vendors, who were offering low prices. But now, we have got an assured market with higher prices than before.”
The AIP project is not just focusing on the core seed development and production but addressing all allied areas such as training students in all aspects of seed systems through contemporary curriculum with enlarged focus on practical training, especially the experiential learning on the farm and at the seed processing unit; building capacity in Industry through various programs that not only focus on developing technical capabilities but also address issues of management, finance, marketing and distribution; enhancing the abilities of the seed certification agencies through policy advocacy initiatives and creating certificate programs for seed inspectors.
In summary, AIP intervention has provided the necessary linkages to integrate all seed sector players including the Researchers, Extension agents, Farmers, Private sector and Policy planners. This holistic approach to seed sector development is the need of the hour in the African context and this model has great potential for expansion not only in Malawi but to other countries in the region.
“This University-Private Sector partnership has been the missing link in making available improved and high quality seed to farmers and therefore this project is a welcome step. We are excited to be associated with AIP as it is a win-win for all.” Mr.Patrick Chingati-Phiri, Managing Director, CPM- Agri Enterprises.