A latest study by Malawi Oilseeds Sector Transformation (Most) has found that sunflower has potential to do well in regional markets such as Sadc and Comesa.
Most is a four-year Department for International Development (DFID)-funded market systems development programme which aims at reducing poverty in Malawi by increasing incomes of farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs.
The results of the survey were released at a stakeholders meeting last week in Blantyre.
Most interventions manager Towela Jalakasi said there are opportunities for Sunflower cake in the regional countries, but there are limiting factors that need to be considered by farmers to take advantage of the available markets.
“The quality of the Malawian offering and the requirements is a problem. Seed varieties in Malawi do not have the same oil or protein content as those grown in other African countries.
“Malawi is selling sunflower cake with 15 percent protein content while the market is demanding the crop with 38 percent protein content,” she said.
Jalakasi said Malawian farmers use recycled seed, which results in low quality and protein.
“Apparently, the problem is the actual seed varieties in Malawi which do not have the same oil or protein content as those grown in other African countries. Our organisation is lobbying for the release of hybrid seeds to ensure that our farmers produce high quality seeds, thereby meeting the requirement,” she said.
Jalakasi said the demand for sunflower stands at between 30 000 and 40 000 metric tonnes per year against the locally produced 11 000 metric tonnes a year.
Most team leader Curan Opperman said local farmers should work with local companies and gear up to meet the sunflower demand.
He said Most will work to improve the volume and quality of sunflower and provide markets for the farmers.
“We urge farmers to take advantage of this opportunity. We assure them that once the Sadc [Southern Africa Development Community] harmonised seed protocol is signed this November, Malawians will get seeds quicker and be up to date with technology,” said Opperman.
Malawi is currently searching for crops that could supplement forex from tobacco.