Traditional African Vegetables (TAVs) have become a lucrative business in Zomba, Malawi; a result of TAVs commercialization campaigns by Farm Concern International, FCI under the Malawi Domestic Markets Programme which is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates oundation.
Ganazio has been growing maize and other vegetables for years and when Farm Concern International introduced TAVs farming, he was selected to be one of the 20 seed multipliers for Commercial Villages. Previously amaranthus vegetables were termed as a wild crop that usually grew on itself in rainy season. This local variety is bitter and very few farmers could let it grow in their fields for food let alone for commercial purposes. FCI introduced farmers to improved amaranthus seed from Bvumbwe Research Station which has no bitter taste.
Mr. Ganazio tending his Amaranthus garden
When FCI trained the farmers on commercialization of TAVs, many farmers were interested but they had no access to improved seed. Mr Makanani was selected as a seed multiplier after looking at how organized and hardworking he was. He planted two teaspoons of the improved amaranthus seed and Okra. This gave him 850 grams and 1000 grams of early maturing amaranthus and Okra seed respectively. The seeds were sold to 50 farmers in his Commercial Village. During 2012/13 growing season he realized MK 18,000 ($53.00) from the seed and continues to multiply seed for the other members.
Apart from multiplying TAV seed, he also set aside some stands of amaranthus for household consumption. “Amaranthus is a nutritious vegetable rich in vitamin C and Iron so says the nutrition specialist and I am happy to consume it because I know the value it will give to my body” he said. Other crops grown on his farm include cabbages, maize, beans and cassava. His farming has earned him profits that he has invested in an iron sheet roofed house and also participates in Village Savings and Loans scheme that enables him timely acquisition of farm inputs.
Mr. Ganazio seeks market his Seed multiplication business in the nearby villages and make more money, through commercialization of TAVs in large scale.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond