United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) has touted one of its agricultural projects for boosting yields for smallholder farmers through the use of 50 new improved seed varieties.
The varieties were developed over five years by researchers through the $18.6 million (about K13.7 billion) Feed the Future Malawi Improved Seed Systems and Technology (Misst) project.
Usaid Malawi director of economic sustainable efforts Cullen Hughes said last week in Lilongwe that with the new varieties, smallholder farmers are harvesting more from their sizable land despite climate change impacts.
“This project ensured smallholder farmers get more yields from the small piece of land which is critical to help with food security in future.
‘The project developed 50 enhanced yield varieties and we hope seed-producing companies who have the incentives will work to see these technologies scaled up and adopted by farmers,” he said.
The project, which phased out last week, improved seed systems for groundnuts, pigeon pea, soya beans, drought-tolerant maize and orange fresh sweet potato.
Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development controller of agriculture services Alexander Bulirani said as the project winds up, there has been production of about 15 500 metric tonnes of seeds that have reached out to about 1.2 million farmers.
He said: “Reaching out to the farmers means that they were equipped with knowledge and resources. Right now the impact is that farmers will have varieties that are resilient to diseases and drought.”
Seed Traders Association of Malawi (Stam) chairperson John Lungu said the technologies have broadened the seed business horizon as they will be taken up by the seed-producing companies.
He said the varieties impact is dependent on farmers adopting the technologies; hence, companies will be marketing the same to farmers to beat the use of fake seeds.
Masst chief of party Naomi Kamanga said the project, which started in 2014, reached 230 000 households with improved technologies, researched and developed Aflasafe product which mitigate aflatoxins in maize and groundnuts.
One of the Misst advisers, Patrick Okori, said the project has increased farmers’ income per hectare.