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MSB partnership in Southern Africa (Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi)

The MSB partnership seeks to collect, conserve and sustainably use seeds of wild species of Madagascar and Southern Africa, including Botswana and Malawi.


M Sacande, RBG Kew
MSB collecting team on Tsodilo male hill, Botswana (Image: M. Sacande, RBG Kew)

Botswana - The MSB overall collecting target in the Botswana official agreement was exceeded at end December 2009. More than 600 species are now safely conserved at the Sebele gene bank and duplicated at the MSB. One of the highlights of this programme was the joint collecting expedition at Tsodillo Hills with a record number of over fifty species collected. A total of 45 native socio-economic important species have been produced in seedlings and planted in several communities’ gardens, like at Tsetseng, in the Kalahari. This generated significant media coverage by BBC World Service and the Observer in 2009.

The information and research activities have covered formal training, which include a PhD study in progress at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. The study is investigating the impact of environmental pollution on seed and seedling quality. Several partners attended the Kew Tropical Plant identification course and received training in Seed Conservation Techniques at Kew.

Madagascar - There are nearly 12,000 plant species in the Madagascar flora with 80% endemism: over 10% of which have already been collected and banked by the MSB programme. The Silo National des Graines Forestières, added their 1000th new species to the Millennium Seed Bank collections in September 2009. Collections include endemic species such as Coffea (Rubiaceae) and Dioscorea (Dioscoreacea), yam species, which are among important food sources and many of these species are threatened in their natural habitats.

The Madagascar Project has also concentrated its efforts on the development of research activities. A PhD on Dalbergia seed biology has successfully been completed at the University of Antananarivo in 2009. The findings will help the sustainable conservation plans for Dalbergia in Madagascar.

Malawi - In Malawi many expeditions were carried out together with partners from the four collaborating national institutes. Northern as well as southern provinces have been visited several times for seed collecting, including Mulanje Mountain (near-)endemics, of which we have now collected over 50%. In total, the Malawi programme has produced 1050 collected species that are conserved in the Malawi National Genebank, as well as in the Millennium Seed Bank for the longer term.

The current PhD study is in progress, an MSc was successfully completed in 2010 and a BSc started at Mzuzu University. Partners attended Kew’s 2009 Tropical Plant identification course and received training in Seed Conservation Techniques at Kew.

Use of MSB collections - The scientific knowledge generated from the MSB seed collections is being used to solve impediments in wild plant propagation. This MSB expertise in seed handling and germination was used to support the production and planting of over 20,000 seedlings from over 100 native tree species since 2010, in communal land and home gardens. In view of these demands, these schemes will continue and the activities will be scaled up through the Southern African partnership in Botswana, Madagascar and Malawi.

Papers published since 2006

  • Andriamahay M., Rakotoarisoa S., Ramamonjisoa L., M. Sacande. 2011. Conservation des resources phytogenetiques de Madagascar. Publication des resultats de MSB1, SNGF, Madagascar, 68 pp.
  • Likoswe, M. G., Njoloma, J. P., Mwase, W.F and Chilima, C.Z. 2008. Effect of seed collection times and pre-treatment methods on germination of Terminalia sericiea Burch. Ex DC. African Journal of Biotechnology, Vol 7(16): 2840-2846.
  • Rakotondranony G.L., Sacande M., Wood C.B., Pritchard H.W.. 2006. Seed storage responses in four species of the threatened genus Ravenea (Arecaceae). Seed Science and Technology 34: 513-517.
  • Sacandé M., Gondwe D., Kambadya F., Schmidt L. 2007. Sterculia quinqueloba. Seed Leaflet 133, Forest & Landscape Denmark.

Project partners and collaborators

  • National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (NPGRC- DAR)
  • National Herbarium and Botanic Garden (NHBG- MEWT)
  • National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC- MEWT)
  • Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA)
  • Veld Products and Research Development (VPRD)
  • Silo National des Graines Forestières (SNGF) Madagascar
  • Forestry Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM)
  • National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC),
  • National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens (NHBG),
  • National Research Council of Malawi (NRCM)
  • National Plant Genetic Resource Centre (NPGRC)
  • Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT)

Annex material

Conferences and workshops

  • AETFAT 2010.Three MSB presentations and three MSB posters presented at Aetfat, April 2010. [International Conference]
  • 2008. Regional MSBP Workshop - Blantyre, Malawi: The MSBP Secretariat in Malawi organized a regional (SADC) workshop which took place in July 2008 at the Shire Highlands Hotel in Limbe. It included a four-day field excursion into the wilderness of Mulanje Mountain massif. Participants from South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and RBG Kew.
  • 2008. Training Workshop on Seed collections database management training, using Brahms software- 12 participants, Madagascar in 2008 [RBG Kew].
  • 2008. MSB Southern Africa Regional workshop, Blantyre, Malawi, 20 – 24 June (2008) - MSB Project Review in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa [Sacande M.]
  • 2007. Paper presentation at Indegenous Plant Use Forum, Johannesburg, South Africa, by Kruger-Gaadingwe M. (2007). Preliminary results of the propagation of some indigenous utilitarian species at Veld Products Research and Development. Indigenous Plant Use Forum Programme and Abstracts. Johannesburg. Pp. 40.
  • 2006. MSB Southern Africa Regional workshop, Gaborone, Botswana, 20 – 24 June (2006)- MSB Project Review in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and RBG Kew. [Sacande M, van Slageren M.]

Popular articles

  • Adams, T. & Hall, A. 2009. The No.1 Lady Seed Detective. The Observer Magazine .pp 31-37.
  • RBG Kew. 2009. MSB Botswana Appeal. Friends and Foundation. RBG Kew, 10 pp.
  • RBG Kew. 2008. MSB Madagascar Appeal. Friends and Foundation. RBG Kew.
  • Scrase, R. 2009. Domesticating wild trees in Botswana. New Agriculturist.
  • Scrase, R. 2009. From the Bush to the Garden. Peolwane Air Botswana In-flight Magazine pp 26-30.