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STAM in seed awareness campaign

August 08, 2022 / Admin
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Mikundi farmers admiring maize in demonstration field

Knowledge is power and seeing is believing. In a bid to bring awareness to farmers on the performance of different varieties of seeds, local umbrella body of all seed producers in the country Seeds Trade Association of Malawi (STAM) recently organized field days in the Central, Northern and Southern regions of the country.

During the field days, the Association showcased various seed varieties to farmers to enable them appreciate how they perform in respective areas of the country. One of the areas where the event took place was Mikundi Agricultural Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Mchinji District.

Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the field day in Mchinji, STAM secretary general, Nessimu Nyama said the event was critical and beneficial to farmers because it (event) enabled them appreciate how various seed varieties can perform in various parts of the country with diverse climatic conditions, weather, rainfall patterns and soils.

According to Nyama, seed varieties which were used as samples in the project, were obtained from 22 seed companies which are STAM affiliates. He added that the Mchinji event was also aimed at helping farmers to move with time in as far as seed selection is concerned.

“Farmers are wise enough to make their own choices. You know there are issues of climate change that have swept across the globe. So we would like to see farmers moving with time because, they might be trusting seed varieties that cannot cope with the current climate change. As you are aware, the rains are not as prolonged as they used to be. We have short rainy seasons these days. So we are urging farmers to go for varieties that can do well even when the rainy season is short,” Nyama explained.

STAM general secretary therefore encouraged farmers to buy modern seed varieties so that they can realize bumper yields. He also highlighted that quality of seeds is not only crisped in productivity but other aspects as well that include drought tolerance and disease resistance.

Nyama who is also a board member of Africa Seed Trade Association (ASTA), challenged farmers in the country to participate in field days to learn more about hybrid varieties that are performing better than what they used to know.

Quizzed on the fairness of the exercise, Nyama said: “there is no biasness towards any company. We have varieties from all the companies for farmers to choose and there are no company names on the tag, instead code numbers were used to represent names of companies. As an umbrella and nonprofit-making body, we promote all our member companies equally.”

On this point, he applauded government through the ministry of agriculture for introducing the Affordable Input Program (AIP) describing it as one of the channels that STAM uses to convey its technologies to the farmers.

“The program takes huge quantities of maize seeds to the farmers. I would therefore like to ask the government to continue with the program which was modelled in a way that allows participation of companies that trade in seeds. Through this program farmers are also given a wide choice of seeds,” he said.

Nyama said STAM works with government in many fronts and said that the association hopes that the existing partnership between the two parties will continue so that together they can promote and take agriculture to higher levels.

Taking his turn, agricultural extension coordinator for Mikundi Extension Planning Area (EPA), Eliya Denis, said the field day helped farmers to appreciate and select best seed varieties that can do better in their localities.

He said the field day was a welcome development and that his office encourages such activities.

“I understand that Malawi is not spared from climate change. So we emphasize much on demonstrations and also field days for the farmers to select best seeds that can suit a particular area,” he said.

He, however, bemoaned the use of recycled seeds in his area by most farmers, saying the practice negatively affects the volume of their harvests. He also complained that some farmers are duped by some traders who sell to them counterfeit seeds that consequently have a negative bearing on the yields.

“We deal with this practice through advising farmers to use only certified seeds for them to realize higher productivity. There are some traders who sell fake and uncertified seeds to farmers, but I commend government for the job well done in conjunction with STAM to curb the malpractice by putting security features on seed packs to ensure that farmers use certified seeds,” he explained.

One of the farmers who attended the field day, Agatha Siveriyani from Kapalamula Village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Nyoka in the district said, the event was helpful because it was an eye opener to farmers particularly when making decision on the types of seeds they should use in their area.

“In the past, we were just buying seeds without knowing their attributes which consequently affected our yields. The demonstration farm, has helped me to select right seeds and I am expecting more yields this season,” said Siveriyani.

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