The seed fairs are a new intervention by the Malawi government being supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) and implemented by a consortium of International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO).
Its objective according to INGO Team Leader, Henry Khonyongwa is to give the farmers a variety of seeds at one place so that they have a choice of what seeds they are buying.
Speaking to Capital FM, Khonyongwa said government through the ministry of agriculture sub contracted a number of agro-dealers to be providing the seeds during the seed fair markets to accord the farmers an opportunity to choose from the many varieties available on the market fair.
The fairs are also designed to assist poor farmer’s access seeds which are drought resilient.
At a recent tour of Seed Fair markets in Machinga and Chikwawa districts, farmers were all smiles and grateful for the introduction of the fairs which they say have reduced the distance they had to walk from home to depots now that they are being conducted in their localities.
Benjamin Mkumbira a farmer and second time beneficiary in Machinga urged one of the implementers Save the Children to consider providing the seeds in time to ensure that they plant with the first rains.
“The first seed market was conducted late and this had negative impact on production coupled with army worms that attacked many maize fields.”
“We believe this time around the crops will do better provided we follow the instructions that we have been given by extension officers on how to deal with them,” said Mkumbira.
And in Chikwawa district the seed fairs have bailed many families from hunger after having their fields attacked by army worms, stalk baler or either washed away by floods.
The seeds have assisted farmers who planted along the Shire river banks to replant and do irrigation farming in order to have food on the table.
Amos Vagi whose farm was completely washed away by floods commended INGO for the seeds saying it will help him and his family replant and at least have food.
Agriculture Development Extension Officer (AEDO) for Mbewa extension planning area in Chikwawa, Shire valley ADD Spencer Lapozo said the seed fairs have helped farmers to access seeds right in the localities without spending money to travel to
He says this has also helped agriculture extension officers reach out to farmers with information easily without having to travel long distances.
Through the fairs he says farmers have been able to plant twice in a year in a year a development that has also helped families to be food secure.