Local seed industry players have agreed with findings by the African Seed Access Index (Tasai) Malawi Country research that the 2022 Seed Act has helped sanitise the seed market by eliminating counterfeit seeds.
Tasai’s findings, which were disseminated in Lilongwe, reveal that the Act has also inspired initiatives to address the challenge of counterfeit seeds in the country.
Among other things, through the new law, the government increased penalties for players that violate the law.
The findings also show that the Malawi seed industry is highly dependent on subsidies, which accounted for 61 percent of maize seed sales in the 2020-21 growing season.
Speaking when the report was unveiled, Seed Traders Association of Malawi (Stam) Chairperson Chikondi N’gombe said the study reflects what was experienced in the industry.
She agreed that the new Seed Act has become critical in curbing fake seeds by introducing tough penalties to deter would-be offenders.
“The purpose of the study and dissemination [of results] is to understand what the status of the seed industry is.
“We will see how to use the information that has been validated by research to improve the status of the industry,” she added.
One of the agro-dealers, Leonard Chimwaza, said findings of the study were a true reflection of the seed industry in Malawi.
“Since the Malawi Government made it possible to have the Seed Act in place, we have seen that counterfeit seeds are not on the market, to the extent that, as agro-dealers, we are well protected.
“Our businesses have started to grow because we are now able to play our business in an environment where unscrupulous traders are not present,” he said.
The Seed Act established the Malawi Seed Regulatory Authority to regulate the seed industry and spells out offenses and penalties for contravening the legislation.
The study also found that none of the local seed companies have their own breeding programmes, relying on the Department of Agricultural Extension Services, instead.
Tasai has conducted similar studies in 22 other African countries.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.