By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
The bill is part of the Government’s reform agenda for the agricultural sector in line with the agricultural transformational initiative as espoused in the National Agricultural Policy.
Speaking in Mangochi District during the interface, Fum Chief Executive Officer, Prince Kapondamgaga, said described the reform agenda as a step in the right direction.
Kapondamgaga, however, said meaningful transformation in the agriculture sector will take place largely if the country significantly and sustainably invests in raising agricultural productivity.
“This, therefore, demands the need for a comprehensive and robust regulatory framework for the sub-sectors of seed and fertiliser to guarantee farmers’ access to quality improved technology to boost productivity and thereby increase production.
“It is against this background that Fum has partnered the government and other non-state actors (NSAs), including business journalists through the Association of Business Journalists (ABJ) to dialogue on the Seed Bill,” Kapondamgaga said.
He said it is expected that business journalist will play a critical role to contribute to the development as well dissemination of the Seed Act and other relevant pieces of legislation for public consumption.
“The media can only adequately play this role only if they are an integral part of the consultative process and are empowered with relevant information on the same,” Kapondamgaga said.
The interface was held with financial support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra).
Among other things, the bill proposes the establishment of the National Seed Commission which will be responsible for seed certification and quality control, and the regulation of seed variety release, and other seed related matters.
The bill also proposes the establishment of the National Variety Release Committee (NVRC) which would be responsible for evaluating a proposed new variety release and enter it or withdraw it in the variety catalogue.
ABJ Secretary General, Taonga Sabola, hailed Fum for taking on board business reporters in the crucial stages of coming up with the bill.
Sabola said the importance of agriculture to the local economy cannot be overemphasised.
“You cannot talk of the Malawi economy without mentioning agriculture. When agriculture sneezes, every sector of the economy catches the cough. As such, the media need to have a clear understanding of critical legislations governing the sector so that they can effectively relay it to the public.
“Often times, we have seen bills being drafted without the involvement of the media but, when it comes to implementation, the stakeholders need the services of reporters. This becomes a problem because the media is not aware of the critical elements of such pieces of legislations,” Sabola said.