Malawi: Sapp Legume Crops Seed Multiplication Programme Upbeat
A 2.0 ha ground nuts field belonging to Mphondelo Seed Multiplication Group at Mwansambo, Nkhotakota - Pic. By Kondwani Magombo
Lilongwe, July 26, 2015: Despite erratic rain patterns the country experienced in 2014/2015 season, the Sustainable Agricultural Production Programme (SAPP) legume crops seed multiplication project in Chitipa, Nkhotakota, and Lilongwe is upbeat.
According to statistics gathered from Chitipa, Nkhotakota and Lilongwe agricultural communication offices, the three districts produced a total of 33000kgs g/nuts seed; 12124kg pigeon peas seed; 23050kg of soy seed and about 470 kg of cow peas.
Chitipa, Nkhotakota and Lilongwe are among the six target districts where SAPP is implementing good agricultural practices (GAPs) and legume crops seed multiplication among selected small scale farmers.
A recent media tour to the three districts revealed that the legume crops seed multiplication project had won the hearts of many small scale farmers who described it as an easy way of making a lot of money.
"The legumes that we are growing are strictly for seed purposes and not for consumption hence, when we harvest, the price is far higher than for the produce meant for consumption," explained Moven Chikuse of Nkhunga EPA, Chigunda Section, Nkhotakota.
The seed multiplication and distribution initiative aims at engaging private seed companies to establish a contract seed multiplication and distribution system which aims to supply legume crop seeds to about 20,000 farmers per annum, sufficient to plant or interplant about 0.1 ha each.
According to the design report of SAPP, small scale farmers in the target districts are given seed of various legume crops namely ground nuts, cow peas, pigeon peas, beans and soy to multiply and sell to research institutions such as ICRISAT.
"The idea is to increase the volume of legumes in the country because currently the supply on the ground is very far from satisfying the demand especially with the Farm Input Subsidy Programme, (FISP)," explained Alex Malembo, SAPP National Programme Coordinator.
He added: "The crops seed is produced by researchers and what the farmers do is to simply multiply it after they are thoroughly taken through all the technical aspects of the process."
Malembo said upon harvest, the multiplied seed is tested by the researchers and certified accordingly before it is sold to either ICRISAT or other research institutions for further distribution to the public.
SAPP is also implementing various farm research trials of multiplying legume seed using different ways of planting namely; single row planting, double row planting, ridge and non-ridge planting.
"By conducting these research trials we have noted which variety and which method of planting suits our area," explained a farmer, Thauzeni Mphondelo from Mwansambo EPA.
"We have, for instance, noted that CG7 variety of ground nuts suits our area better than Chitala, and Sinjiro. As for the profitable way of planting, we have opted for the double row on ridges because it the plant population is very high and so is the yield."
Other than Chitipa, Nkhotakota and Lilongwe, SAPP is also being implemented in Balaka, Chiradzulu and Blantyre.
The Programme, which is expected to run for nine years, rolled out in 2012 but actual implementation on the ground started in 2013.
SAPP's core goal is to help reduce poverty and improve food security among the rural population.
But the specific development objective of the programme is to achieve a viable and sustainable smallholder agricultural sector employing good agricultural practices (GAPS), according to the programme's design report.
By Kondwani Magombo