Develop Seed Industries in Malawi

Inadequate seed production systems and the lack of access to seed by smallholder producers are a bottleneck to the adoption of improved crop varieties. Crop improvement together with seed access can transform the lives of smallholder farmers and help them build a robust seed distribution system.


  • Helped seed industries develop in Africa for new improved varieties to reach farmers
  • Arranged contract farming for seed production
  • Imparted long-term training in seed production
  • Developed an agro-dealer network
  • Made seed available to the Government Farm Input Subsidy Programs (FISP)
  • Set up farmer clubs, farmer field schools and farmer marketing groups.


  • 2 million: Households reached directly 
  • 4,500 tons or 54% of seed: Contribution to the Farm Input Subsidy Program of the government in 2013
  • The 2013 seed infusions into the FISP translate into:
    • USD 5.7 M per annum from seed and grain sales
    • USD 3.3 M worth of consumed legumes and grain in households
    • 10-fold increase (42 tons in 2008 to 400 tons in 2014) in groundnut foundation seed production
    • 8308 tons of improved groundnut and pigeonpea seed sold by the private sector local seed companies through the FISP
    • 1400 kg of sorghum seed: ICRISAT’s contribution to the Malawi government for the 2015-2016 cropping season
    • Benefited neighboring countries Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique.

Better seeds to smallholder farmers for better food security and incomes:

We have published recently a Seed Systems Models and Lessons Learned booklet that showcases ICRISAT’s work on seed systems in the drylands, with different approaches and their impact on the ground. Improving farmers’ access to improved seeds in the drylands is seen as a cost-effective strategy to improve farm productivity and food security. For more details click here

In particular, the Groundnut seed revolving fund in Malawi established in 1999 has trained many smallholder seed growers (from 235 in 2008 to 1,736 in 2012, about half being women farmers) and boosted the production of quality controlled seeds of groundnut, and now pigeonpea and rice seeds. Further impact through establishment of village seed banks (total of 48,000 beneficiaries in 2016). Local private seed companies are now engaged in production of certified seeds of groundnut and farmers get better harvests by using improved seeds. The projected return for the next five years on investing in the seed revolving fund is US$14 for each dollar invested. Farmer story published on Agrilinks.

Download Seed system booklet 

In the media

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