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REACHING FARMERS WITH QUALITY FISH SEED OF IMPROVED STRAINS THROUGH EFFECTIVE DISSEMINATION SYSTEMS IN MALAWI

The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in collaboration with WorldFish Center held a multi-stakeholder workshop on dissemination models to improve access and availability of quality seed (fingerlings) of improved tilapia strains in Malawi on 23rd August 2019 at the Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe. The workshop was aimed at getting an overview of the dissemination system from nucleus to producers from different perspectives. In his opening remarks, the guest of honour, Dr. Steve Makungwa, the Deputy Dean of Faculty of Natural Resources at LUANAR’s Bunda College, said the workshop was very important for the nation in order to enhance the availability and accessibility of seed of tilapia in Malawi. “The workshop is particularly important to reflect on barriers and entry points to overcome the barriers. When we are outlining the challenges, we need to be able to classify them into two main categories for easy implementation by policy makers both from government, the university or even the farmers themselves,” he said. The workshop comes in when globally, there is continued rise in demand for fish. Meeting the demand will require sustainable productivity growth in the aquaculture sector. Without an effective dissemination system for improved strains of fish, it will be difficult to achieve a sustained growth in aquaculture productivity. Speaking in an interview, the main facilitator of the workshop, Dr. Kelvin Shikuku, a post-doctoral fellow at WorldFish headquarters, Penang, Malaysia, stressed on the importance of characterizing the system to help understand how particular dissemination systems function within a specific context. “It’s very important to put things in context. So, to characterize the system helps to understand how particular dissemination systems function within a specific context. We need to first of all understand how the value chain is structured including who are the actors, how is the seed flowing from one actor to another, how performance of one actor affects the other, and whether or how quality of fish seed is maintained as this important factor of production flows from the different actors to the targeted beneficiaries—the farmers”, he said. Dr. Shikuku further emphasized the need to take a value chain perspective in addressing fish seed bottlenecks. “We need to think about the role that each node along the value chain plays and how that can help to address the bottlenecks. That way we will really start to understand what are the entry points to addressing the challenges or to improving the dissemination systems,” he said. The Africa Centre of Excellence in Aquaculture and Fisheries Science (AquaFish) Deputy Director, Professor Daud Kassam, also underlined on the importance of coming up with a proper seed dissemination model. “As we are talking right now, we don’t have a proper model which we can use as a national system on how we can control quality of seed starting from breeding up to producers. So, this model together with its associated guidelines will help to control the quality of seed reaching the producers,” Professor Kassam said. “As LUANAR being also one of the leading centers in the sector, we are championing the model. Actually, we have been assigned to be the breeding nucleus of Oreochromis Karongae which is the real Chambo to ensure that through our operations as Luanar especially Bunda fish farm, we should stick to the regulations and see that our seed which can be given to the farmers is of good quality,” he said. The workshop attracted different stakeholders from both public and private institutions including Luanar, The Government’s Department of Fisheries, Maldeco, Mzuzu University, WorldFish Center and farmers. Research on effective and sustainable dissemination systems for improved fish strains is a contribution to the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agrifood Systems (FISH). Funding support to the multi-stakeholder workshop was provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on a project entitled “Scaling Systems and Partnerships for Accelerated Adoption of Improved Tilapia Strains (SPAITS).”