GFAR blog

YAP Proposal #377: Soya seed multiplication (Wisdom Bwanali, Malawi)


Wisdom Bwanali-Mchinji-Malawi

My name is Wisdom Bwanali and I am 28 years old. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Land Management (Physical Planning) which I obtained from Mzuzu University in 2014.

I come from an agricultural family that is based in the border district of Mchinji, Malawi. The art of farming is one of the survival concepts that I learnt and practiced since I was 6 years old. Memories are still afresh of my late mother buying me a small hole and allocating me a small plot to plant my own maize.

Since I was very young, and probably before I was born some 28 years ago, our family farming has mainly been practiced on a subsistence level. In simple terms, we grow crops for food. I have come to realise, however, that my family has not benefited a lot from this faming activity, although my grandfather would be quick to argue that it was the same money he used to have go to the university.

This is true, but I feel that my family should have benefited more, for which I think the element of entrepreneurship was missing, in spite of the available land and resources.

After I finished my university studies, I did not get employed straight away. I stayed at home for two years. I had to do some odd jobs to support myself and from these savings, I opened up a farm on my family land.

In the 2014/2015 farming season I cultivated soya beans on a one-acre plot and harvested seven 50 kg bags. In the current 2015/2016 farming season I have cultivated soya beans on four acres of land and the signs for the harvest are good. I have plans to expand my farming activities on a larger scale in the 2016/2017 season.

I have, therefore, grown an interest and developed myself in soya cultivation. I am still not satisfied as my cultivation is on a small-scale basis and the profits are not much due to lack of proper markets.

You may be interested to know that in Malawi, soya cultivation has grown greatly as it can be sold at a good price with minimum inputs as compared to other crops. According to Kananji et al. (2013), the national production of soya beans over 10 years in Malawi has been growing at about at 4.6 % per year.

It has been estimated that there is an aggregate domestic demand of soya beans of 400,000 metric tonnes, which excludes potential export markets. It is against this background that I got motivated with the idea of soya seed multiplication so that I can exploit the available market and also to create jobs in my community.

In Mchinji, we have an agricultural extension office for Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (ARET). I contacted the local ARET office and found that the organisation has been advocating the idea of seed multiplication among smallholder farmers. I also found out that ARET has been promoting the concept of contract farming, where a supplier makes an agreement with a potential buyer.

What one has to do is just to register with ARET and you become their client. You agree on how much quantity you will produce and selling prices. ARET acts as a middleman to link you up to potential buyers. They also have extension workers who train and monitor you on the best practices to grow soya beans up to the stage of harvesting and sorting. Once you have produced good seed (after laboratory testing) you are certified as a seed supplier.

My main aim is to multiply certified soya seed to sell to seed companies, so that they could make more good quality seed available to soya producers. In the long run, the project will also incorporate local farmers in the seed multiplication industry to meet the expected increased demand. The following steps will be undertaken in order for this project to materialise:

  • Register with Agricultural Research and Extension Trust;
  • Contract agreement with potential buyer;
  • Land lease (rent);
  • Input procurement;
  • Labour recruitment;
  • Actual cultivation (harvesting, sorting, storing);
  • Project monitoring;
  • Supplying; and
  • Project evaluation

At the local rate of $1 to MK713, the $5000 grant translates to MK3,56,500. Once I get the grant, most of the funds will be spent on registration with ARET (MK250,000), Seed Inspectors (300,000), land lease (MK120,000), labour (MK540,000), transportation (MK200,000), and purchasing of farm inputs (MK500,000), and running costs (MK200,000).

At the expected output of seven tonnes and selling price of MK800, I expect to earn MK5,760,000 with a projected profit of MK2,110,000. This project will run from August 2016 to August 2017.

I would measure my success in this project based on the following criteria:

Profit. Every business is done to make profit, and using this criterion I would know that I am benefiting from my business.

A growing customer base.  When a large number of people seek your services it is just a sign that there is more demand for your products, which would translate to growth of my business.

Customer satisfaction. When buyers are not complaining with the standard of products you are supplying it means that the reputation of the business would grow, which would attract more customers.

Employee satisfaction. This is the core of any business and a happy customer means more production and more success.

Owner satisfaction. Lastly, you cannot continue doing something that you are not enjoying, and if the owner of a business is satisfied, it means that the objectives of the business are being fulfilled.


Blogpost and picture submitted by Wisdom Bwanali (Malawi) – wisdombwanali[at]

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

This post is published as proposal #377 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

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“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.

106 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #377: Soya seed multiplication (Wisdom Bwanali, Malawi)”

  1. Firstly, let me thank Mr. Bwanali for the great idea. Majority of graduates in Malawi always think of getting employed than being engaged in farming. The propensity has exacerbated unemployment levels.

    Secondly, Malawi as agriculture based economy, crop diversification is paramount to economic development. Most Malawians consider tobacco as the only cash crop which is profitable. However, in the face of overwhelmingly falling of tobacco prices and climate change, Soya Beans can be a substitute commercial crop to tobacco. Soya beans can be added value for export just like tobacco. Environment implications of Soya beans are bearable compared to tobacco production.

    1. I would say I am humbled with your comment. You have really hammered the nail on the head as to why this can be an alternative to tobacco. It is environmental friendly as its cultivation can can help improve soil fertility. Unlike tobacco, you dont need to cut down a tree to process it.

    1. No, I currently do not have land to do this project, but as a starter I will lease land in the rural areas. In the ling run, i have plans to purchase my own farm.

      Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your question, ut me answer youn this way, the price I mentioned. In my blog is the average price most local seed multipliers get, you also agree with a buyer on the price of your commodity

  2. This is a good development as our country is facing negative effects due to climate change & The main cash crop being tobacco facing challenges on the international market. Hence, resilient programs are crucial. Thank you my brother am proud seeing that am from Mchinji lots of respect. forward ever.

  3. Well. That will be a great achievement. Wish you success in your proposal and your area of specialization is interesting considering Malawi’s current economic situation. Malawi needs to produce more, export more and import less. Hope you will also find some markets abroad. My advise is to consider risks and uncertainties in your business as well. No business runs smoothly so a farmer needs to be prepared all the time. This should be a learning curve to some Malawians who are simply staying put at home. They should be innovative and create job opportunities to others. In that way they will improve Malawi’s economy and livelihood of many people.

    1. Well I would like to thank you Jackie for your wonderful advice, I think you are right to say we need to produce more for import and export less. In the long run, I am planning to exploit this market. Risks and uncertainties are always part of a business and I would work had to cushion my investment against such.

  4. Firstly, let me thank Wisdom for the good development. Our country needs youth who can think and put into practice what’s in their mind. Wisdom has shown us that it is possible to develop our country if and only we change the mindset of our graduates thus from being end user to starter. Keep it up.

    1. I am very encouraged and motivated by your comment Mike, indeed if we all could change our mindset to innovators rather than waiting for someone to employ us, we could change our economy a great deal

  5. Seriously, this idea is what Malawi as a nation is lacking. I would want to thank Mr Bwanali for the boldness to venture into farming of soya. Bravo!!!

    1. You inspire me Alex with your aggressiveness to making headway in the market. I would like to borrow a leaf from your book so that we can make a change together

      1. Its all about determination and self confidence. To succeed in life you need to take risks. Entrepreneurship is all about risk taking. I am encouraged and motivated by your bold step to start farming and I believe that if all young people would think this way obviously we can change our country Malawi.

      2. That’s quite an encouragement, you some times one becomes afraid of taking risks because of uncertainties. I am determined to succeed however.

      3. Patience I would say and self determination should your equipment. You should also believe in yourself that you can everything.

  6. I thank God for the young upcoming entrepreneur. This is what Malawi as a Nation is lacking. We need people who will improve the ailing economy so far experienced in Malawi. I totally support the idea and I rally behind to see this come to pass.

    Bravo Mr Bwanali

    1. We are surely together in this Alex, and i am sure there are alot of briliant ideas out there as well. What we need is to implement them now, for if we wait for tomorrow we would have lost a lot

      1. We need the mindset of many young people who do not believe in themselves by taking risks.


      1. We need the mindset of many young people who do not believe in themselves by taking risks.


      2. Well I am taking one and I hope this initiative will take me to higher levels of success. I would however, still need to learn a lot from experienced people like you in principles of entrepreneurship

    1. Good of you to say, but I have been thinking of starting this business for some time, i just lack start up capital. I am sure with this grant i can achieve my dreams

  7. I’m inspired to venture into agro -business. Bravo Mr. Bwanali this is good an idea.

    1. Yes you are right Steve, I see main trained minds just roving around waiting to get employed by someone. They have the capacity to do something creative and be successful. I hope to inspire people to venture into agripreneurship

  8. What you are planning is inspiring to many youths Wisdom. Remain focused and determined towards seeing your entrepreneurship idea through. Am confident that soya beans cultivation is the best choice for you to achieve that.

  9. This is inspiring to many young people. Thanks Wisdom; wishing you well as you are working to achieve your idea.

    1. Yes if we don’t act now then we will live a difficult life tomorrow. As old adage goes “the past is for us to learn from and the future is for us to manage” we need to act now and be innovative, our country need us to be such, not waiting for some wonders to happen to you

  10. Mr bwanali wish you all the best for having such great idea. i realy support you brother.

  11. this is good Mr Bwanali…..we must not only rely on being employed….we can also employ people

  12. The more educated people take up farming the better it woyld be for our country. Thats the mostvlikely route to move from simple subsistence farming to a more productive commercial farming. Glad you arevdoing your part Wisdom.

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