Agro-dealers in Malawi help make sure seeds grow

Photos by Morgana Wingard

We began our trip to Malawi at a research station that developed improved seed varieties to counter devastating disease and drought. Many of those plant varieties developed at Chitedze Research Station are sold to Funwe Seed Farm to produce quality seed for the surrounding community.

Funwe’s packaged and certified seed is sold to farmers in agro-dealer shops, which is where we came upon Mrs. Flora Kahumbe. Flora owns two agro-dealer shops near Monkey Bay, Malawi, at the south end of Lake Malawi. She was trained by RUMARK, a local NGO that gets support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. RUMARK makes sure that agro-dealers like Flora know about proper storage for seeds and chemicals, safe application of crop-protection chemicals like pesticides and the appropriate ways of applying the right types of fertilizer for maximum effect.

Yet, Flora is more than just a shop-owner; she’s really almost an extension agent that provides valuable knowledge to farmers on how to get the most out of their seed. With three employees in each store, Flora is creating stable employment in her community and ensuring that the seed she sells does its best to feed Malawi’s growing mouths.