High-yielding chickpea and finger millet varieties with yield potential of up to 3 tons per hectare have been officially released in the country.
The release aligns well with the government’s crop diversification agenda for food and income security and the funding agency Irish Aid’s goal of increasing the resilience of poor households to economic, social and environmental shocks, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) said in a news release last Friday.
The three chickpea and three finger millet varieties are the culmination of five years of on-station and on-farm evaluations for adaptability, yield, nutrition, climate resilience and utilisation facilitated by the Malawi Seed Industry Development Project (MSIDP).
The varieties, bred by the Icrisat breeding programme in Kenya, have been tested for adaptability in Malawi.
“Smallholder farmers who have been growing low-yielding landrace varieties for food and income have welcomed the new varieties that have the potential to invigorate chickpea and finger millet production in Malawi,” said Patrick Okori, Icrisat Malawi country representative.
He said the farmer participatory research process, including food testing trials, have seen farming communities expressing interest in the new finger millet varieties as they are popular in traditional recipes such as sweet beer and porridge.
Icrisat said the varieties will strengthen the community complementary feeding and learning programmes being implemented by the nutrition programme of the MSIDP.
Similarly, chickpea remains key in the diets of many rural households in southern Malawi, where it is also an income-generating crop, owing to the increasing market demand, regionally.
The MSIDP project aims to strengthen legume and cereal seed systems and their complementary agricultural innovations, in order to improve productivity and consequently food, nutrition and income security of smallholder farmers.
The Department of Agricultural Research Services in partnership with Icrisat has released the three chickpea varieties, following clearance by the Agricultural Technology Clearing Committee, of the Ministry of Agriculture, Malawi.