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Seed Trade Association of Malawi Supplement

Seed Trade Association of Malawi Supplement

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Published by Nation Online
Nation Publications Limited brings you the Seed Trade Association of Malawi suppliment
Nation Publications Limited brings you the Seed Trade Association of Malawi suppliment

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Published by: Nation Online on Oct 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Serious re-flections onfarming asbusiness
Special pullout the nation 10 September 2013
alawi’s economyis predominantlyagricultural, withabout 80 percent of thepopulation living in ruralareas. A recent World Bankreport notes that thesector accounts for morethan 80 percent of thecountry’s employmentand the majority of therural population produce84 percent of agriculturalproduce.However, whileagriculture remains themain source of growthand exports in Malawi,poverty is still widespreadin such areas where thereis majority of populationpractising agriculture.Land and watermanagement remains poorand much agriculturalproduction uses degradedsoils, leaving crops proneto water and low-nutrientstresses.Strengthening of theagricultural production isthus imperative and, sofar, strategies, policies,programmes and projectshave been implementedby various stakeholderswith the aim of enhancingproductivity.Still, availability of fertilizer, capital and goodseeds pose a big challengein agricultural production. A report by InternationalSeed Testing Association(ISTA) labels seeds as amaster key to success withcultivation. The report says farmers’expectations can only beachieved if the seed is trueto the selected variety.Even fertilizer becomesuseless if farmers areprovided with poor qualityseeds. A good and competitiveseed industry improvementis thus necessary to providenew varieties for allrelevant crops that farmersappreciate. And that is where seedsuppliers like Monsanto,Seed Co Malawi Limited,Peacock Enterprises,Pannar Seed, Nasfam,among other companieswhich provide farmers withseeds, come in.For an intensifiedagricultural production,such players in the seedindustry managed tocooperate through theformation of Seed Trade Association of Malawi(STAM) in 2004 toinfluence and strengthenpolicies and regulationsthat guide seed tradetowards sustainability andgood reputation to thebeneficiaries.Various reports haveindicated how theassociation has assistedthe Malawi governmentand farmers in general inaccessing quality seeds andcontrolling proliferation of fake seeds on markets.Principal Secretary in theMinistry of Agriculture, Jeffrey Luhanga,appreciates STAM’s effortsin Malawi’s agriculturalproduction.“The Ministry of  Agriculture works withSTAM in implementationof a lot of activities andfarm input programmes.So far our relationship hasbeen highly regarded andcontinues to improve,” saysLuhanga.STAM chair, DellingsPhiri, says the associationis heavily involved inthe Farm Input SubsidyProgramme (FISP), a
STAM boosting livelihoods
government strategy touplift small-holder farmersby subsidising theirfertilizer and seeds.Phiri says STAMensures that the memberseed suppliers, whichit recommends to thegovernment to be givenFISP contracts, are meetingthe needs of the farmerthrough improved quality of seed and service delivery.“The seed suppliersthat we recommend areonly those that haveshown proof that they usebasic seed from approvedsources, and that the seedwas produced and processedlocally,” says Phiri, who isalso the managing directorfor Seed Co Limited.He explains that STAMworks with Seed ServicesUnit (SSU) which is theregulatory body responsiblefor seed certification,to ensure that the seedproduced by its membersis indeed of the rightquality and has passed fieldinspection standards.
Staff Writer
“Since the onset of thesubsidy programme, themaize productivity atnational level has increasedfrom 1.2 metric tonnes perha to 2.2 metric tonnesper ha largely due to useof enhanced seed geneticssuch as hybrid seeds asopposed to OPV maizeseeds and recycled maizeseeds,” beams Phiri.STAM’s performanceis also seen through theincreasing number of members which has grownfrom 7 to 17 who strictlyadhere to the code of ethicsof the association.Phiri expounds that thisis because the associationhas a secretariat that isfunctioning and whoserole to the seed industry isvisible.However, STAM isstill encountering somedifficulties, including themajor challenge to controlproliferation of fake seedon markets.It has been reported thatvendors with no certificatesmix any grain with dyeand offer it to farmers.Explains Phiri: “Thishas been our majorchallenge. You find thatthe farmers, withoutknowledge of what theyare being offered, buy thefake seeds which hardilygerminate, leading themto make huge losses atthe time of harvest.”Even though STAMhas tried to lowerthe incidence of thismalpractice throughcertification of all seedsellers, the seed sector isstill affected.“The most criticalrequirement for thegrowth of the seedsector is the revisionof the Seed Act. Ourpresent Seed Act, whichwas revised some timeback, lacks seriousnessin curbing seed relatedmalpractices,appealsPhiri, adding thatgovernment is already“very positive” towardsrevising the Act.
At the helm of STAM: Phiri
Special pullout the nation 10 September 2013
aving once sufferedfrom fake seedfallouts, Dexter Banda,a small-holder farmer livingin Nsewa Village, in thearea of Traditional AuthorityMalili in Lilongwe district,shares his experience.Banda, who has been afarmer for over 20 years,says he still remembers atime some years ago whenhis production slumpedbecause he used fake seed.“It happened close to10 years ago. I boughtlegume and maize seedsat the city market. Theylooked real and were dyed.I could not wait to plant my‘good seeds’ at my alreadycultivated three-acre field,”recalls Banda.He says that the seedshardily germinated, hencehe had to replant, but it wasalmost too late.In the end, even afterapplying a good amount of fertilizer, Banda harvestedless than 20 bags of maizefrom a field he used to reapover 30 bags before.He explains: “That wasbecause I did not knowwhere to buy good seedsand improved varieties. Things are easier now sincewe have the Seed Trade Association of Malawi(STAM) which recommendsto farmers on genuine seedsuppliers.” As Banda says, STAMstrives to ensure that theseed suppliers are meetingthe needs of the farmerthrough improved quality of seed and service delivery.Wilson Chafutsa, anexpert in the Seed ServicesUnit (SSU,) a regulatorybody responsible for seedcertification at ChitedzeResearch Station, explainson the joint effort in seedmonitoring whereby STAMofficers and governmentseed inspectors go into theseed market to check if fakeseed is being sold out tofarmers.“STAM strives to makeavailable to the farmingcommunity high qualityseed of improved varieties.When one is caught sellingfake seed, SSU and STAMhandle them by taking thematter to court to facecharges to do with fakeseed proliferation,” clarifiesChafutsa.He adds that theassociation has also becomecrucial when it comes topayment of some fees byseed companies to SSUand assists government indealing with seed supplierswho violate their laws.“In short STAM helps SSUin crop registration, agro-dealer registration, cropinspection, monitoring of seed markets, and resolvingconflicts between SSU andseed companies, amongothers,” Chafutsa explains.However, despite thepresence of STAM or itsworking together with SSU,it has been argued that thereis little that is achieved onthe seed sector because theSeed Act is outdated.Various reports indicatehow fake seed sellers, whichare taken to court for sellingfake seeds, are given lightand suspended sentenceswhen their offence entirelyaffects a farmer’s cropproduction.“The Seed Act is tooarchaic and needs to berevised. Whatever STAM isdoing, if not backed by thelaw, is fruitless. Governmentshould thus speed up therevision of the Act. Whenthe Act is revised, STAM’sachievements will be visibleto all stakeholders and verymuch appreciated,” explainsChafutsa.Even STAM’s secretary-general, Nessimu Nyama,agrees that the revision of theSeed Act is the most criticalrequirement for the growthof the seed sector.“However, it is appealingto see that government isalready very positive towardsrevising the Act,” saysNyama.Government, throughthe Ministry of Agriculture,which works closely withSTAM in the implementationof a lot of activities and farminput programmes, includingthe Farm Input SubsidyProgramme (FISP), continuesto hail the contributionSTAM is making towardagricultural development inthe country.PS Jeffrey Luhangaappreciates STAM’sinvolvement in the seedindustry and food security.“We have been workingtogether, especially in seedindustry, and our relationshipcontinues to yield results,”says Luhanga.
Journey to fakeseed supervision
Genuine seed yields better crop: Pannar Seed is one of the credited seed companiesAppreciates STAM’S involvement in seedindustry: Luhanga

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