Inadequate funding in research stalling Malawi legume sector growth

Lack of huge investment in research and innovations towards the legumes subsector is stalling the growth of the industry in the country, agricultural experts say.

Dr. Felix Lombe making his address at the symposium. Pic. Courtesy of AICC
Mataka, centre, listening attentively to a host on one of the pavillions at the symposium. Pic. Courtesy of AICC.
Some of the participants at the symposium

The legume sub sector in Malawi has been billed as an alternative sector to the tobacco industry towards the economic growth of the nation.

But low funding to academic and other institutions towards research and development is said to derail progress needed for meaningful and valuable changes in the sector.

“Funding levels are very minimal in institutions of higher learning and other government departments responsible for undertaking research. As such there is little progress in making the legume subsector a vibrant alternative to the tobacco sector,” said chief executive officer for African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC), an organisation working towards capacity building in the agriculture sector.

He was speaking on Thursday in Lilongwe on during a symposium on legume value chains technology, innovations and research held at Bingu International Convention Centre.

Lombe said that in situations where some research is done, there has been low uptake of the technologies and innovations by the end user whether they are farmers, companies.

“At some time when there is uptake, it takes very long for some to adopt these technologies and by the time they decide the technology may be obsolete and affecting the growth of legume crop,” he said.

AICC is the host secretariat for the Legumes Development Trust (LDT), an entity working in development of technologies and innovations in the legume sector.

Board chair for LDT Dr Geoffrey Kananji said there is a need for making technologies demand driven if high uptake rate is to be realised.

“Most times, farmers embrace technologies that tackle and address challenges they face. So developing these innovations, we need to involve them in critical stages that require their input,” Kananji said.

He, therefore, appealed to the Malawi Government to consider making budgetary support in research and development in the legume as well as the whole agricultural sector.

Head of agricultural sector wide approach (Aswap) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Nelson Mataka said government appreciates the potential of research and innovations towards promoting growth in the legume subsector.

“As government we will ensure that adequate resources are provided for in the budget in line with efforts to diversify sources of forex revenue for the country,” he said.

He asked development partners to invest research and innovations since most of them are only investing in extension services.

The one-day symposium attracted value chain actors in the legume sector like research institutions, seed companies, farmers and farmer organizations, traders and processors among others.

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