In Malawi, IITA is promoting soybean as the next “miracle crop”, emphasizing its value for the wellbeing of smallscale farmers by integrating the crop in sustainable agricultural development and commercialization.
At the 11th Malawi National Agricultural Fair, held 28─30 August in Blantyre, the IITA-Malawi exhibition showcased agricultural innovations, technologies, crops, and value-added products that the institute is promoting in the region. Among the most notable were the improved varieties of soybean and cassava, as well as recipes and the information materials on improved crop management and value addition.
The Fair was organized by the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) with the theme “Agriculture: the basis for achieving inclusive growth”. The event drew over 100 exhibitors that included researchers, input suppliers, farmers’ organizations, processors, buyers of agricultural produce, and service providers. The Fair was officially opened by the Malawi State President, Peter Mutharika.
The Hon. Allan Chiyembekeza, Minister of Agriculture, visited the IITA pavilion. He was briefed by Mathinda Sopo, IITA’s agribusiness specialist, on the various technologies on display as well as IITA’s work to support farmers with new technologies and improved seeds to help Malawi’s agriculture-based economy to grow.
“We are developing a sustainable soybean seed system that aims at enhancing the availability of high-quality seeds of improved varieties for farmers in Malawi.
We are also working to promote the integration of subsistence farmers into the market economy by linking them to end-user industries,” Mathinda told the Minister.
In his response, Minister Chiyembekeza indicated that he was well aware of IITA’s work and appreciated the research in the country particularly on cowpea and cassava, adding he was delighted that IITA was also focusing on promoting soybean in Malawi.
“I have known of IITA’s work for some time since I am familiar with CGIAR research centers working in Malawi and in the [southern Africa] region. However, this is the first time I am hearing that IITA is also working on soybean. This is indeed impressive, and I am excited about the future prospects of your research on this crop. There are many farmers and other people who do not know productive ways of using soybean for both food security and income generation,” the Minister emphasized.
Daniel Manda, a student at the Malawi College of Accountancy, was among the hundreds of people who visited the IITA pavilion to see the various technologies and products on display. He indicated, “I would like one day to become a commercial farmer who would seek to know more about soybean and its benefits to export the crop to other countries. Coming to this Fair – to the IITA exhibition in particular – has made me appreciate soybean and better understand its various uses.”