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Malawi: Promoting entrepreneurship in informal seed systems for legumes

As much as 95% of the legume seed sown by farmers in Malawi is saved, exchanged or bought informally. Farmers, their neighbours, friends and relatives, and traders at the local market are a significantly more important source of seed for these important crops for food, nutrition and income than the agro-dealer. This warrants capacity strengthening in informal seed systems.

What exactly does the project do?

The goal of the project is to increase the local availability of quality legume seed by strengthening entrepreneurship in informal seed systems as a primary outcome. This will be achieved by implementing activities including: 1. Revealing key institutional, social and behavioural factors influencing local seed quality, availability and use; 2. Identifying seed entrepreneurs and their networks; 3. Training trainers, farmers and local traders in quality seed management, marketing and basic financial literacy; 4. Building local networks connecting seed entrepreneurs to important inputs, services and markets; and 5. Sharing lessons learned with relevant stakeholders in the sector.

Where do activities take place?

Partners CARD and Mzuzu CADECOM have a local presence in the communities where we work. In the extension planning areas (EPAs) of Mponela; Chulu; and Chioshya of Dowa; Kasungu; and Mchinji districts respectively, CARD coordinates local trainings and brokers networks. In Kaluluma and Champhira EPAs of Kasungu and Mzimba districts, Mzuzu CADECOM has the lead. Based in the country’s capital, LUANAR plays an important role in surveying, curriculum development and training of trainers, with support from Wageningen CDI.

What results have been achieved so far?

To date, surveying has taken place in five EPAs where data has been collected from more than 600 farmers and local traders. Three tailored curricula have been developed by subject matter specialists from industry and university and 30 trainers have been trained. Trainers include front-line extension staff, lead farmers, community leaders and other local innovators. Equipped with a concise guide to quality seed production for common bean, groundnut and soybean; a logbook and instructions for financial record keeping; and a participatory tool for marketing and business planning, trainers are currently engaged in local trainings on the related subjects. At least 750 farmers and local traders will in turn be trained, each of whom will receive the same guide, logbook and tool that their trainers are in possession of. Local partners have received seed money for facilitating access to and piloting of innovative inputs and services for seed entrepreneurship. 

malawi farmers