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Observations on the Malawi maize productivity task force

By: Kumwenda, A.S | Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT), Mexico DF (Mexico).
Contributor(s): Waddington, S.R.|Murwira, H.K.|Kumwenda, J.D.T.|Hikwa, D.|Tagwira, F [eds.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookAnalytics: Show analyticsPublisher: Harare (Zimbabwe) Soil Fert Net|CIMMYT : 1998ISBN: 970-648-006-4.Subject(s): Food supply | Malawi | Plant production | Small farms | Sustainability | CIMMYT | Soil Fert Net | Food security | Zea mays AGROVOC | Soil fertility AGROVOCDDC classification: 631.45 Summary: Maize contributes about 65% of the per capita food needs in Malawi. A recent food situation analysis has shown that from 1986/87 to 1994/95, there was adequate maize food only in three out of nine years. Food shortages have been recurrent for many years. An analysis of household food security is even more alarming. There was therefore an urgent need in 1995 to accelerate maize production and reduce the food deficits.|A major cause of the recurrent maize food deficits was soil fertility and poor adoption of improved and more productive technologies by the farmers. A Maize Productivity Task Force was therefore formed to address these two problems.|The Task Force formed four Action Groups. Action Group One was to develop area-specific fertilizer recommendations for maize and demonstrate any other related fertility improving technologies. Action Group Two had to multiply breeders and basic seed stocks of old and new varieties that were not being multiplied by the Commercial Seed Company, demonstrate them to farmers as extensively as possible and initiate a commercial seed multiplication programme by the smallholders for varieties of no commercial value to seed companies. The demonstrations by the three Action Groups permitted farmers to assess the technologies, and thus created a demand for them.|To date, area specific fertilizer recommendations for maize have been developed from 1920 verification trials. These recommendations show that maize can be grown at lower nitrogen and phosphorus levels than the blanket recommendation dictates. It is expected that these recommendations will increase the use of fertilizers on maize, increase its production in Malawi, and help attain food security. Very helpful comments have been made by the farmers on several technologies that were in demonstration plots. In some cases, farmers have requested such technologies.|The sustainability of a Commercial Smallholder Seed Multiplication Programme under a liberalized market economy, however, still remains questionable. Smallholder seed growers do not have infrastructure to process, store and sell the seed when the price is right, e.g. at the beginning of the growing season. It seems that the middleman role in the programme is unavoidable for it to be successful.|Despite the problem encountered in the seed multiplication programme, the MPTF has been recognised as a good mechanism for the verification and fine-tuning of technologies. Verified and fine-tuned technologies are expected to be easily adopted by farmers to enhance soil fertility improvement and food crop diversification. The taskforce has strengthened researcher/extension/farmer linkages; an important link in technology development and transfer.Collection: CIMMYT Publications Collection
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Conference proceedings CIMMYT Knowledge Center: John Woolston Library

Lic. Jose Juan Caballero Flores

 

CIMMYT Publications Collection 631.45 WAD (Browse shelf) 1 Available 1K628739
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Maize contributes about 65% of the per capita food needs in Malawi. A recent food situation analysis has shown that from 1986/87 to 1994/95, there was adequate maize food only in three out of nine years. Food shortages have been recurrent for many years. An analysis of household food security is even more alarming. There was therefore an urgent need in 1995 to accelerate maize production and reduce the food deficits.|A major cause of the recurrent maize food deficits was soil fertility and poor adoption of improved and more productive technologies by the farmers. A Maize Productivity Task Force was therefore formed to address these two problems.|The Task Force formed four Action Groups. Action Group One was to develop area-specific fertilizer recommendations for maize and demonstrate any other related fertility improving technologies. Action Group Two had to multiply breeders and basic seed stocks of old and new varieties that were not being multiplied by the Commercial Seed Company, demonstrate them to farmers as extensively as possible and initiate a commercial seed multiplication programme by the smallholders for varieties of no commercial value to seed companies. The demonstrations by the three Action Groups permitted farmers to assess the technologies, and thus created a demand for them.|To date, area specific fertilizer recommendations for maize have been developed from 1920 verification trials. These recommendations show that maize can be grown at lower nitrogen and phosphorus levels than the blanket recommendation dictates. It is expected that these recommendations will increase the use of fertilizers on maize, increase its production in Malawi, and help attain food security. Very helpful comments have been made by the farmers on several technologies that were in demonstration plots. In some cases, farmers have requested such technologies.|The sustainability of a Commercial Smallholder Seed Multiplication Programme under a liberalized market economy, however, still remains questionable. Smallholder seed growers do not have infrastructure to process, store and sell the seed when the price is right, e.g. at the beginning of the growing season. It seems that the middleman role in the programme is unavoidable for it to be successful.|Despite the problem encountered in the seed multiplication programme, the MPTF has been recognised as a good mechanism for the verification and fine-tuning of technologies. Verified and fine-tuned technologies are expected to be easily adopted by farmers to enhance soil fertility improvement and food crop diversification. The taskforce has strengthened researcher/extension/farmer linkages; an important link in technology development and transfer.

English

9907|AGRIS 9902|R98-99ANALY

Jose Juan Caballero

CIMMYT Publications Collection

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