About 320,000 smallholder farmers in Malawi will benefit from two projects that aim to further strengthen the country’s legumes and cereal seed systems as well as increase contributions of root and tuber crops to food security, nutrition and incomes.
Two Irish Aid funded projects, Malawi Seed Industry Development Project-Phase II (MSIDPII) and Root and Tuber Crops for Agricultural Transformation in Malawi (RTC-ACTION Malawi) were launched on 26 September. ICRISAT leads the MSIDPII while RTC-ACTION Malawi is led by the International Potato Center (CIP).
In its second phase, MSIDP, which aims to reach 200,000 farmers by 2020, will include common bean and have a stronger focus on sorghum and pearl millet. The crops covered in the project are groundnut, pigeonpea, common bean, rice, sorghum and pearl millet.
“This new phase of MSIDP will contribute to the country’s legumes and cereal seed systems to support smallholder farmers to improve their food and nutritional security. We are aiming to release new sorghum and pearl millet varieties to ensure diversification in farming, and utilization,” said Dr Patrick Okori, ICRISAT-Malawi Country Representative.
“A total of 95,000 tons of groundnut, pigeonpea, and common bean, 10,000 tons of sorghum, 2,400 tons of pearl millet certified seeds will be pumped into the seed system. Building on our current experience we are expanding our nutrition work guided by our mission to reduce malnutrition. Together with other CGIAR and national partners we will ensure the success of this project to improve the livelihood of the smallholder farmers,” added Dr Okori.
MSIDP was designed to support the work of the Eastern and Southern Africa Seed Alliance (ESASA) in Malawi to increase crop yields and incomes by providing high quality and affordable seeds to smallholder farmers. The aim is to strengthen the cereal seed systems and access to complementary agricultural innovations to improve food, nutrition and income security of farmers.
The RTC-ACTION Malawi project aims to directly benefit 120,000 farmers by 2020. It will increase the contribution of root and tuber crops to food, nutrition and income security in Malawi by harnessing advances in research and development of these crops and scaling them up through potato, sweet potato and cassava value chains.
Both projects were officially launched by Dr George Chaponda, Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development of Malawi in the presence of Her Excellency Áine Hearns, Irish Ambassador to Malawi.
Dr Chaponda said, “I am confident that this project will add value the holistic development of the people of Malawi by ensuring that people have food, good health and also money in their pockets.”
In her remarks, Ms Aine Haerns, said Ireland is impressed with the impact that its funding to CG centers particularly ICRISAT Malawi and the International Potato Centre (CIP) has had on the lives of Malawians.
The occasion was also attended by the Head of Cooperation of the European Union in Malawi, Lluis Navaro, the Head of Cooperation of Germany in Malawi, Thomas Steiger, as well as dignitaries from the donor community funding the agriculture sector of Malawi, The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development, Director of Department of Agricultural Research Services and several senior staff of Ministry of Agriculture were present. Dr Moses Siambi, Regional Director, East and Southern Africa, ICRISAT, was also in attendance. Over 150 participants from the private and public sector, non-governmental organizations and farmer’s organizations were also in attendance.
The Malawi Seed Industry Development Project Phase I was implemented by ICRISAT together with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in partnership with the government’s Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), local nongovernment and other organizations.