Demeter Seed

Demeter Seed Ltd. (Demeter Seed) breeds, produces and markets a range of field crop seeds. The company is a sub-division of Demeter Agriculture Ltd (DAL), which has been engaged in the agricultural production of commodities and seeds since 2004. It focuses on selected bean, soybean and maize seeds grown both on Demeter Seed’s farm and by outgrowers. Seeds are processed, treated and packed at the main facility in Lilongwe before being distributed through the company’s own network of outlets as well as through distributors outside Malawi.

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Regional Index

Eastern Africa

Summary of results:

Most of Demeter Seed’s activities are located in Malawi and to a lesser extent in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. Smallholder farmers are engaged in several company activities including R&D and production. R&D programs are informed by local knowledge and feedback, and robust distribution networks meet smallholder needs. Relatively little public information on the company is available, however. This is reflected in its low Transparency score and overall ranking in ninth place in the Regional Index.

Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Leading Practices

    Demeter Seed is engaged in industry and public dialogue, and participates in multi-stakeholder initiatives. For example, it has lobbied independently and in collaboration with stakeholders on issues of interest to smallholder farmers in Malawi, its senior management is active in the Seed Trade Association of Malawi and it has attended several forums to support regional seed trade harmonization.


    The company gathers local knowledge and feedback to inform its R&D programs in Malawi, primarily through its point-of-sale interactions and during field days. This has resulted, among other things, in the incorporation of traits such as flintiness for reduced cooking time into breeding activities.

    The company adapts its packaging and distribution practices to meet the needs of smallholder farmers. For instance, it employs a vast distribution network, including indirect channels such as agrodealers and schoolteachers, and offers various pack sizes (including 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8 kilogram packages) in Malawi.

    The company builds the capacity of smallholder farmers in Malawi by teaching agronomic best practices for quality control and providing logistical support. It has also contributed to tertiary training and hosted students for practical training.

Index Crops in Portfolio
Sales Breeding Focus
Global Field Crops
Beans, dry
Local Field Crops
Pigeon pea
Areas for Improvement

    Demeter Seed could significantly improve its transparency by publicly disclosing more about its activities and commitments.


    It could also expand its programs and activities that support smallholder farmers beyond Malawi to the other three countries where it is active, namely Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, and broaden its marketing & sales activities by developing seed affordability programs for smallholder farmers.

Notable Findings

    When releasing new seed varieties, Demeter Seed makes an effort to market commercial varieties and varieties developed by research institutes that are appropriate to the needs of smallholder farmers.

    The company accommodates the differing capacity levels of smallholder farmers by offering both hybrid and open-pollinated (OPV) maize varieties.

    The company aims to involve smallholder farmers in its seed production, stating that 25% of its seed production in Malawi is carried out by smallholders or farmer cooperatives.