Malawi

Last updated: January 2019
  • Region Eastern and Southern Africa
  • UPOV membership status Member of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO); initiated the procedure for acceding to the UPOV Convention
  • Participation in OECD Seed Schemes No
  • ISTA accredited member laboratories Yes
  • GM corp approval for cultivation No
  • Law on Plant Variety Protection Seed Act (2005)
Seed sector in Malawi

Agriculture employs 80% of Malawi’s population and makes up 30% of its GDP. The sector is predominately comprised of smallholders, mainly at the subsistence level, and is largely focused on maize cultivation, alongside certain cash crops such as groundnuts, soybeans and, to some extent, tobacco.

In 2012, the Malawian government through the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II identified agricultural productivity, diversification and food security as focus areas for growth in the sector. The Seed Services Unit in the Department of Agricultural Research Services is responsible for seed certification involved in inspection and testing. It also has a seed testing laboratory, which is accredited by  the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA).

The seed sector in Malawi strongly promotes improved seed, which is distributed to small-scale farmers through agro-dealers. The country’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme promotes and markets quality seeds for improved varieties of maize, groundnut, pigeon pea, common beans, cotton and soybean. Other major crops in Malawi, such as cassava, potatoes, rice and sorghum, have not yet attracted commercial entrepreneurs, other than those spurred by non-governmental organizations. Malawi is a signatory of both COMESA and the Southern Africa Development Community.

Observations

There are 11 index companies in Malawi, including Demeter Seed, which has its headquarters in the country. Demeter Seed does not have its own breeding program but does test and produce seed for the local market. It also carries out extension services for smallholder farmers, the only company to do so besides Seed Co.

Three other companies have testing locations, while five produce seeds, three of which (Capstone Seeds, Corteva Agriscience and Demeter Seed) engage smallholders in the process. Syngenta and Capstone Seeds are the only two companies processing seeds in Malawi, and Syngenta the sole company breeding.

Alongside the headquarters of Demeter Seed, the capital Lilongwe also has an ISTA-accredited laboratory that the company uses to ensure compliance with quality assurance standards.

Index company activities identified in Malawi
Company Crops in portfolio Company activities in country
Companies selected for
the Access to Seeds Index
Field
crops
Vegetables Breeding
location
Testing
location
Seed
production
Processing
location
Sales Extension
services
Capstone Seeds  *
Corteva Agriscience  *
Demeter Seed  **  *
East African Seed
East-West Seed
Klein Karoo Africa
Monsanto
Pop Vriend Seeds
Sakata
Seed Co
Syngenta
  • * Company involves smallholder farmers in seed production activities
  • ** Company headquartered in Malawi

Other companies identified in the regional landscaping study and their activities

Company Crops in portfolio Company activities in country
Field
crops
Vegetable
crops
Breeding
location
Seed
production
Sales
Funwe Seeds
Multi Seeds Company