In September of 2016, Kusamala in collaboration with the African Centre fo Biodiverity (ACB) released a field report titled: Farmer-managed seed systems in Dowa, Malawi: A legacy of eroded confidence and agricultural diversity after decades of Green Revolution implementation. Some of the findings of the report showed that in Malawi farm-saved seed is widely acknowledged as the major source of seed for smallholder farmers. The draft Seed Policy also acknowledges this factor but chooses to only focus on the formal seed sector as it considers it to be the only system having scientifically traceable sources  (Government of Malawi, 2015). The policy will focus on Harmonised seed laws which only value seeds recognised under formal quality control systems within all regions of which Malawi is a signatory, denying smallholder farmers the opportunity to operate within non-conventional agriculture systems that focus on local varieties and diversity.

This puts 70 per cent of the smallholder farmers who largely rely on Farmer Managed Seed Systems (FMSS) in danger of losing their rights to save, use, barter and sell farm-saved seed and propagation material. This is of great concern as smallholder farmers are key players in the Agricultural Sector in Malawi.

Quick Facts

  • 84 per cent of Malawians live in rural areas where about 11 million are engaged in smallholder subsistence farming.
  • agriculture accounts for more than one-third of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 90 per cent of exports.
  • smallholder farmers contribute 75 per cent of food consumed.
  • 70 per cent of smallholder farmers rely on the informal seed sector: farm-saved seed, farmer to farmer
    exchange, local markets, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based
    Organizations (CBOs).

You can find the draft National Seed Policy here, please also read this blogpost titled Seed sovereignty for peasant farmers in Malawi blocked by emerging national seed policy by Bright Thamie Phiri. Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below.