New Legume Lab Project Looks to Transform Bean Seed Systems in Malawi
From the November 2021 newsletter.
One of the key challenges to bean seed production and supply systems in Malawi is lack of value chain coordination starting from the market demand for grain that influence demand for certified, basic, and breeder seed, and ultimately feeding into the breeding pipeline. The lack of structured planning and interactions among value chain actors results in uninformed seed players on the value of the varieties and the inability to anticipate and plan for production and marketing activities.
Subsequently, farmers do not have access to quality seed of their preferred varieties through the formal sector. More often farmers use part of their saved grain as seed, resulting in lower yields. As a result of demand led breeding, bean is increasingly becoming a commercialized crop with grain offtakers interested in specific varieties.
However, the offtakers often are not connected to certified seed suppliers and breeding pipeline, and as a result, they source low quality grain from farmers at low prices, which discourage farmers to invest in the use of certified seed.
To address these challenges, a new project titled, Transforming Seed Systems to Respond to Bean Variety Demand Through Multistakeholder Platforms in Malawi, uses an approach where the market pull incentivizes farmers to use improved consumer preferred varieties which drives up the demand for certified seed. This demand attracts seed entrepreneurs to invest in the seed supply chain. This can be achieved if the offtakers grain demand is deliberately synchronized/coordinated with seed production & supply to respond to farmers’ seed demand (varieties and quantity).
This system requires coordination through a private sector led multi stakeholder platform (MSP) bringing together all participating value chain actors and by integrating the seed system in the MSP. The study aims to test how a market pull for demanded varieties through the MSP or without MSP context can stimulate farmers’ interest and purchase of certified bean seed. Private producers of certified seed will then respond to seed demand from farmers, by investing to increase quantity and quality of seed supplied, the number of farmers accessing seed, and ultimately increase bean productivity and production.
The project is led by Dr. Jean Claude Rubyogo, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Collaborating institutions include LUANAR, Malawi; DARS-Chitedze, Malawi; PABRA-SABRN, Malawi; and Virginia Tech, U.S.