Mzuzu, October 28, Mana: Demeter Seed Company Tuesday embarked on promotion of seed scratch card technology in the Northern Region to prevent farmers from buying fake seed.
Launched in August this year by Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with Seed Traders Association (STAM), Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) and other stakeholders, the technology uses a secret code on the sticker of a seed packet to tell whether the seed is original or fake.
After scratching the sticker, the secret code is revealed and sent to a toll free number, 3015, as an SMS for verification of the seed certification and a farmer gets instant feedback also in form of SMS.
Speaking during the awareness campaign in Mzuzu, Demeter Agriculture Limited National Sales Manager, Benson Banda said the technology will help to flush out unscrupulous traders who sell counterfeit seeds to farmers.
Before they purchase seed, farmers are supposed to check and know if the seed is fake or not.
“The technology will help farmers to know the seed quality, seed company which produced it, production date, and other details to prevent them from buying fake seed,” he said.
However, some farmers who tried the technology bemoaned the feedback, saying it is in English Language, making it hard for some of them to understand the information.
In response to the complaint, Ministry of Agriculture Spokesperson, Gracian Lungu, said the ministry was working on modalities to translate the messages into vernacular languages.
“The ministry noted that, and received numerous calls from different stakeholders to consider languages used in different areas where our farmers live.
“Currently, we are using English and Chichewa but going forward we are going to consider other local languages,” Lungu said.
Asked on the status of adoption of the technology by farmers, Lungu said so far, the ministry has no data as to how many farmers have embraced the technology.
“The program has just started, so, getting the number could be quite early, I would say the data will be shared in due course as the program has just started,” he said.
A farmer from Kaviwale in Mzuzu, Beatrice Chibabo, hailed the initiative and asked Demeter Agriculture Limited and Government for more sensitization campaigns in rural areas.
During the awareness, Demeter Agriculture Limited splashed out 5Kg maize seed of Mphangala, T-shirts and Caps to farmers.
The program was launched in August this year and seed companies are buying a scratch card at K15.00 while farmers are not paying anything to access the service.