|Malawi Government commits extension services
|1 April 2014
By Emmanuel Muwamnba
The Malawi Government has made a commitment to support community based seed multiplication undertaken by smallholder farmers in order to improve availability of and access of high quality seed in the country and SADC region.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bintony Kutsaira pledged extension services to the Association of Smallholder Seed Multiplication Action Group (ASSMAG) who are under the Harmonised Seed Security project.
The project supported by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) is being piloted in Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe,
During a field day conducted on Tuesday in Lilongwe, Kutsaira said: “The group needs to be strengthened. They should be assisted by the agriculture extension development officers all the time to improve the yields."
Kutsaira urged delegates from Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe that attended the field day to learn from Malawian farmers, share experiences and ideas on what improvements can be made to the project.
Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) national director Tamani Nkhono-Mvula who is also FANRPAN Malawi Node Coordinator assured Kutsaira and his entourage that there will be a big improvement of the seed crop.
He thanked FANRPAN for choosing Malawi to be in the pilot project whose overall objective is to contribute to improved food security and poverty reduction through increased seed security and better disaster preparedness in SADC region.
FANRPAN project coordinator Bella Mpofu hailed government's commitment to provide extension workers to farmers producing seed to provide advice.
"We are very impressed with the growth we have seen in our farmers and excellent seed crops that our farmers continue to produce."
"I was also glad to hear the deputy minister indicate that extension officers will be attached ASSMAG to provide the advice farmers need," she said.
The Harmonised Seed Security project is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
SDC regional programme manager Bulisani Ncube said the project has helped farmers in the country to compete with private seed companies.
"Smallholder farmers are very impressive and motivated. They are able to produce quality seed that meet the SADC standards and they have been mainstreamed into the seed production processes," he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Agricultural Research Council of Zimbabwe Dr I siah Mharapara, FANRPAN Zimbabwe Node coordinator, who was also present, said the delegation had learnt a lot in Malawi during the field day and will take the message to respective countries which will be implemented.
On Wednesday, the delegation visited Chitedze Research Station and Demeter Seed Company.