MALAWI KEY PLAYERS IN THE SEED VALUE CHAIN
Stakeholders in the seed value chain play a pivotal role on issues to do with enforcing rules, improving seed access and value addition. Key players in seed value chain include; government, Seed suppliers, Seed growers, and Service providers,
Donor organizations have contributed significantly to the success of STAM and growing the seed ecosystem in Malawi and the SADC region, at-large. For example, this website was made possible as part of a grant awarded to STAM by U.S. Agency for International Development through the Feed the Future Southern Africa Seed Trade Project. This website allows STAM to provide the type of market and policy information we know our members are looking for, as well as a platform to connect Malawi’s farmers to agro-dealers who are producing improved, quality seed.
The government provides the overall policy and regulatory environment for the seed industry through the development of seed policy, Seed regulations and Seed Act. In addition to the regulatory role, the government of Malawi also plays an active role in the seed industry through the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) under which breeding of different crop varieties is done. The DARS also has agronomists and entomologists that work hand in hand with the breeders. Furthermore, government, through the Seed Services Unit regulates activities in the seed industry.
Seed companies are involved in a number of activities within the seed value chain. Multinational seed companies have their own research departments which undertake breeding and varietal development programs. Local seed companies, however, do not yet have breeding and varietal development programs. Both are involved in multiplication of foundation and certified seed through sub contracting to commercial seed growers. Multinational companies and a number of local seed companies have their own processing plants where they process and package their seed and manage a distribution system to various marketing agents including agro-dealers who are spread through out the country.
There are several service providers within the seed industry each offering different services to the players in the industry. The service providers include the Seed Services Unit whose functions have been described above under government; Extension Agents most of which belong to the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development provide backup services to the Seed Services Unit in form of technical advice on seed production to the seed growers. In addition to the government extension agents there are private sector agents principally employees of the multinational and the local seed companies. The private extension agents provide regular advice and spot checks on the growers as part of seed quality assurance.
The Seed Trade Association of Malawi is an agent acting on behalf of its members to ensure proper working environment with respect to policies and regulations. STAM also ensures that its members conduct their business in a professional manner by ensuring adherence to quality standards and all ethical requirements regarding the seed industry.
Transporters are also part of the service providers in the seed industry in the sense that they facilitate movement of commodities (inputs and outputs) from one point to the other. Finally but not least are the financial institutions that provide financial loans for operations as well as acquiring capital equipment.
Input suppliers are individuals and organizations that deal in different types of inputs required in the seed industry. Amongst the input suppliers include fertilizer companies; companies dealing in chemicals and pesticides; those dealing in agricultural equipment and machinery and the packaging industry
Seed growers fall under two broad categories namely basic seed growers and certified seed growers. The basic seed growers are largely comprised of multinational and local seed companies who sub contract reputable growers to multiply the basic seed for production of certified seed
The grain growers include the large, medium, and small-scale farmers who obtain certified seed from the various distribution agents and plant the seed to produce grain for final consumption by consumers which include individual household consumers and industrial consumers that process the grain into several other products such as maize flour and other cereal products and oil extraction. There are about 3 million smallholder farming families in Malawi and the country`s average 1.4 million hectares is put under maize cultivation. Much of the seed produced in Malawi is maize to respond to the demands of most farmers
There is a good number of Non-Governmental Organizations in Malawi`s agriculture sector. Most operate under the banner of Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET). And are mostly involved in capacity building of farmers and farmer groups. Their interventions especially in food, income and nutrition security include provision of seed to vulnerable households and work closely with Seed Trade Association of Malawi and Malawi government through Ministry of Agriculture and food security. Mostly, NGOs directly distribute seed to beneficiaries in response to either drought or flood conditions in a particular area or through Seed Fairs, to help farmers in disadvantaged market areas to access seed easily and cheaply.