Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) says the modernisation of policies and legal framework governing the agricultural sector will help trigger agriculture commercialisation and productivity.
FUM chief executive officer Prince Kapondamgaga said this in an interview on the sidelines of a sensitisation workshop for business journalists under the Association of Business Journalists (ABJ)on the review of the Seed Bill yesterday in Mangochi.
He said Malawi is lagging in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in terms of agricultural productivity due to outdated policies and laws governing the sector.
Said Kapondamgaga: “I can give you an example of maize. Other countries in Sadc are able to produce 10 000 metric tonnes of maize per hectare while here in Malawi the highest you can get is 2 000 metric tonnes per hectare.
“This is due to poor seed quality, poor soil fertility, the use of unimproved technologies, applying of insufficient fertilizers and most farmers have small pieces of land that they cultivate. So, if you account for all these factors, you will understand the low productivity issues in the agricultural sector.”
He ssaid the National Agriculture Policy and the National Agricultural Investment Plan government launched recently make it possible to review the laws in the agriculture sector, citing an example of the Seed Bill review, which government has mandated the union to review and seek stakeholder input.
Kapondamgaga said currently the country does not produce adequate certified seeds to achieve maximised productivity and hoped it will benefit a lot from the regional agreements on seed harmonisation that entails cross border trading of certified seeds.
ABJ general secretary Taonga Sabola said the Seed Bill is of interest to business journalists because Malawi remains an agricultural economy, hence, seed is a catalyst for production.
Recently, Seed Traders Association in Malawi chairperson John Lungu called on the government to consider enacting the Seed Bill to complement the seed policy.
He argued that the reviewed Seed Bill to replace the old act would provide authority to deal with weak punishments which were being meted out for several malpractices that are being registered in the seed industry.
Said Lungu: “We are closely monitoring and hoping to see the enactment of the new Seed Bill in the country so that the industry should have a proper legal framework to enable government coordinate its activities properly.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha earlier said government was aware of the need to enact the Seed Bill and that processes are being undertaken to engage various stakeholders to give input before the bill is brought to Parliament.