Experiences in implementing the bean seed strategy in Malawi
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Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/42839
This is a follow-up paper describing experiences gained from the bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) seed strategy in Malawi, published in the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture in 2000. The strategy included: informal seed multiplication using smallholder farmers; informal seed distribution using grocery shops, rural traders, extension agents, health clinics, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); intensified publicity through promotional materials like posters, leaflets, brochures and radio messages; and informal outlets such as farmers, NGOs, extension agencies, village traders and various other institutions. A high rate of success was achieved using this strategy in making bean seeds available to farmers on a pilot scale. Farmers showed considerable interest in purchasing seeds of newly released bean varieties in Malawi. The quantity of seed produced and distributed over the years increased considerably. Introduction of small seed packs helped to improve smallholder farmers' access to seeds of new bean varieties. The small seed packs sold fast because they were affordable and potable, making it easy to reach many farmers in the rural communities. Farmers were willing to try several varieties with minimal investment. Introduction of color posters helped to create rapid awareness and promoted the new varieties. However, bean as a self-pollinated crop provides limited profit margins, so the private sector has not yet shown the desired interest in seed production and distribution, despite that there is substantial demand for bean seed in Malawi.