LL farmers participate in tomato seed research

Written by  Eunice Ndhlovu

Smallholder farmers in Lilongwe Ukwe EPA are participating in a tomato variety research that will help the country to have locally manufactured tomato seeds. The farmers are choosing from 10 varieties presented in a project called Partnerships for Seed Technology Transfer in Africa (PASTTA).

Tomato in one of the gardens at Ukwe EPA Tomato in one of the gardens at Ukwe EPA Pic by Eunice Ndhlovu

Speaking when he inspected the varieties planted at Traditional Authority Kabudula’s area in Lilongwe Edgar Wavomba PASTTA regional manager for African agricultural technology foundation says farmers in Africa should take part in choosing seed varieties of crops they can grow as a way of ensuring farmers own the crops and have confidence in them.


“The main aim of the project is to introduce new crop varieties to farmers here in Malawi focusing on high value vegetables such as tomatoes, as well as small grains and legumes, such as Soya beans and groundnuts. We are involving farmers basically to get their views,” said Wavomba.


For Malawi and other African countries to asses seed variety performance against local crops PASTTA project was launched aiming to improve farmer’s access to quality improved seed varieties. Wavomba says farmers are better placed to choose the best seed varieties that will increase their incomes.


“These hybrids have already been tested in a research station, and already collected some data on their performance on the research site, so now we are talking to farmers to get their views and compare it against the data we got from research stations so that we can get what’s best for farmers here in Malawi,” confirmed Wavomba.


Judith Matchakaza a tomato farmer taking part in the exercise hails what USAID and partners have done to give them a chance to choice of seed. Matchakaza indicates she has already identified some useful traits in one variety that will benefit her farming.


Matchakaza (2nd) with her fellow farmers in tomato garden 


“As farmers this has enlightened us, we are now able to notice better traits of tomato seed from these new varieties. Our local seed does not grow tall and mature faster like these. We have realized this is a better seed,” lamented Matchakaza.


One local seed company taking part in the research is Peacock Seeds. Corporate affairs and market development manager for the company Horace Boti says this is a unique approach that has given chance to Malawian seed industry to incorporate tomato varieties that are acceptable to indigenous farmers.


“As a local company we understand farmers needs. We are not forcing a technology that farmers can not benefit from. If this farmer does not benefit we are also killing our own industry, because we thrive on famers’ performance,” said Boti.


The partnerships for seed technology transfer in Africa PASTTA is a global development alliance between feed the future, Syngenta foundation for sustainable agriculture, African agricultural technology foundation and new Markets Lab.

The project is being implemented in Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Uganda and Malawi over the next 3 years.

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