Seed Act review crucial to agricultural development

By Banthu Reporter
The low and slow adoption of improved agricultural technologies is one reason that has contributed to many countries in Africa including Malawi, to have the highest proportion of people who suffer from hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Dr. James Munthali said this when he opened a workshop on the review of the Seed validation Act in Lilongwe on Tuesday, noting that despite Africa having abundant arable land, natural and human resources it has failed to make strides in securing food security.Dr. Malunga
“Despite this land that could potentially be translated into increased production, incomes and food security nevertheless the region has failed to capitalize on this because of little or no use of inputs such as fertilisers and improved seeds,” said Dr. Munthali.
The reviewing of the seed act which was enacted in 1988 is being facilitated by the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) who is working in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture Research Service (DARS) and other stakeholders.
The Minister said Africa’s overall agricultural production and productivity rates are the lowest by any standards and that he hoped the Seed Act review will create a conducive environment for enhanced generation and utilization of improved seed.
“The review of the Seed Act will therefore significantly consolidate gains the agriculture sector is making to the economy in terms of forex generation and improving food security livelihoods. Seed is a key and important input in agriculture production because it enhances productivity,” he said.
With the drastic increase in the numbers of Seed companies in the country, which is standing at 15 as of now, it is important to put in place legislation measures that will regulate the seed industry for the betterment of all seed stakeholders.
Director for DARS Dr. Alfred Mtukuso said there department is responsible for administering a number of functions one of which is overseeing the activities to do with the seed act review, policy framework formulation.
“The environment in which agriculture is being conducted nowadays is constantly changing therefore the need to create a good working condition for the small scale farmers,” said Dr. Mtukuso.
National Director for CISANET Tamani Nkhono Mvula said one of the reasons they are pushing for the Seed Act review is to realign it with the Southern African Development Communities (SADC) protocol.
“Where we talk about farming we cannot do that without bringing seed into the equation hence the need to do a proper review of the Seed Act which in true sense is long overdue,” said Mvula.
Three teams comprising teams from DARS, LUANAR, ARET, FRIM, STAM and Minister of Justice were formed to look at specific areas and issues in the Act and the activity is being coordinated by CISANET.