Practical Action Malawi, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is promoting indigenous crops in Balaka to help smallholder farmers beat hunger and vulnerability to climate change shocks.
Speaking on Monday during a meeting with community members in the district, the organisation’s project manager Elizabeth Namaona said diversifying and improving indigenous crop production will boost food security among people.
She said: “Local seeds form the bulk of planting material for smallholder farmers that contribute 80 percent of food in the country.
“Of late, hybrid seeds have been highly promoted at the expense of local ones. These farmers are losing the seeds and have challenges to access and sell them.”
Namaona said they want to stimulate a long-term sustainable nationwide market for indigenous seeds to promote the farmers’ rights to grow, save and trade.
“The crops are key to achieving food security as they are adaptive to local agro-ecological zones,” she said.
Namaona said they will establish farmers’ groups and link them with big seed producer associations recognised by government service providers.
A lead farmer from Mwandama Section in Mpilisi Extension Planning Area in the district, Clement Bonongwe, commended the organisation for the initiative.
“We will access quality and climate-resilient seeds through the initiative,” he said.
The organisation is implementing a Farmer Saved Seed Markets Project in the district with financial support from Innocent Foundation.