Legumes are a major important source of protein in Malawi where animal protein is scarce and expensive. Among the legumes, beans are a major crop. A subsector study was conducted to examine the vertical set of activities from production, through distribution to consumption. The study revealed that generally smallholder farmers do not use inputs such as fertilizer or pesticides unlike in other crops, the Government does not provide credit for the inputs in beans. The majority of the farmers face seed shortage as a major constraint. While beans are generally grown for consumption and for sale, farmers differ the extent to which they rely on beans for sale. Generally, farmers in the areas without any lucrative crop and near urban areas will rely on beans as a major cash crop. The majority of the consumers rely on the market for getting beans. What influences marketing forces is poorly understood as not much research has been conducted to understand consumer behavior. Whereas earlier research was less market driven and concentrated on selecting on high performing lines, in recent years, there is an attempt to understand the market forces driving the seed sub-sector as well as understanding the farmers' seed technology issues. Central in these efforts will be to understand the role of institutions in improving the performance of the sub-sector.


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