While Malawi continues to look for solutions to lack of adequate foundation seed for seed companies to satisfy their needs, a new breed of growers is emerging away from the traditional large-scale seed producers and companies. Small-scale farmers that have grouped themselves together are now rising up to the challenge to grow foundation seed to supply to the seed companies.
Chilimika Cooperative in Salima is one such group. The group, which has 60 members, has selected 10 of its dedicated farmers to produce groundnut seed for one of Malawi’s emerging seed companies, Global Seeds.
Mwatitha Bulainati is one of the 4 men and 6 women farmers growing groundnuts seed. “We are growing CG11 which is a new groundnut variety in this area. We have always grown CG7 which is very susceptible to pests,” She says. We have been working with Global Seeds extension workers all these months just to ensure that we realize good yields, she adds.
With funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)Global Seeds are working with two farmers cooperatives in Lilongwe and Salima to produce CG11 ground nuts.
“The main aim of this project is to introduce roset disease resistant groundnuts seeds to these areas” Says Shane Phiri, Operations Manager for Global Seeds. “Apart from extension services, we are also providing the farmers with shelling and packaging materials” He says.
Manase Chijaro, Chairperson of Chilimika Cooperative, paints a brighter picture on the new variety. “We have always had problems with CG7 which has been our traditional groundnut variety here. With CG 7, we have not encountered those problems. There have been no pests or any diseases,” He says.
The company identified and trained the out growers to increase its capacity in seed production. “We also expect more women out growers to benefit from this project because in Malawi groundut is considered as a woman’s crop. We have also noted that the majority of the farmers taking part are women.” Says AGRA Country Manager for Malawi, Sophie Chitedze.
The company expects to realize 4metric tones of groundnut basic seed, which they will purchase from the cooperatives, according to Phiri.