Alarm Raised over Fake Seeds Circulating on The Kenya Market 

Kephis Trans Nzoia regional manager Ephraim Waciira ( Centre) flanked by Kenya Seed sales and marketing manager Sammy Chepsiror ( left ) and Senior Corporate Communications Manager Jane Gitau in Kitale yesterday

Mr Chepsiror who represented Kenya Seed Managing Director Fredrick Oloibe at the event said that the maize varieties that had undergone five to six years in trials with better yielding capacity than the indigenous ones had already been released on the market

By David Musundi

Two State Corporations, Kenya Seed Company (KSC) and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) have scaled up research activities on drought-resistant crops to assist farmers to overcome challenges posed by climate changes. Kenya Seed head of sales and marketing Sammy Chepsiror said the seed company had released 40 maize varieties that are tolerant to drought, disease and Striga weeds.

He said more focus had been directed to research and innovations in a bid to produce fast maturing and drought-resistant products for various agroecological zones in the country. Speaking during a media luncheon in Kitale yesterday, Mr Chepsiror who represented Kenya Seed Managing Director Fredrick Oloibe at the event said that the maize varieties that had undergone five to six years in trials with better yielding capacity than the indigenous ones had already been released on the market.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) logo

He said many farmers in the region will be able to produce more despite the erratic climatic conditions. He said: ‘’ We are looking at faster maturing, more tolerant and disease resistant crop varieties which can be able to yield to about 30 bags of maize on one acre than the indigenous types of crops which yield to 15 or so bags per acre’’, he said.

Some of the varieties that the Kenya Seed company has released in­clude H528 (Ua Kay­ongo) and H530 and H531 (Ua Kay­ongo). He said the new de­veloped varieties will greatly help combat the Striga weed menace in Nyanza and western re­gions. Other maize seed varieties include KS­DV01 and WE1101 varieties which are suitable for arid and semi-arid areas and water in­suf­fi­cient areas and those prone to drought.

The Kenya Health Inspectorate KEPHIS Regional manager Ephraim Waciira said the government was concerned about those selling uncertified seeds which poses danger to agricultural growth

These vari­et­ies have rough leaf surfaces which enable them to regulate the amount of water lost through transpiration. They are also shorter in height making them require less amount of water to sustain their growth. “Our target is to overcome climate change and these varieties of maize can do well in dry areas which receive limited amounts of rainfall in a year,” says Chepsiror. Raising an alarm over massive land subdivisions in the country, Chepsiror said the company has expanded its activities to Tanzania due to the availability of adequate land. “We have scaled up irrigation farming to produce enough seed and are also seeking more land from neighbouring countries such as Tanzania,” he said. He however asked Kenyans to shun unnecessary land subdivisions to protect agriculture.

Kenya Seed Company

The Kenya Health Inspectorate KEPHIS Regional manager Ephraim Waciira said the government was concerned about those selling uncertified seeds which poses danger to agricultural growth. He hailed the media practitioners in the region for the partnership with government agencies through flagging and reporting cases of selling fake seeds. ‘’We wish to thank you members of the Fourth Estate for the partnership which has helped to bolster the fight against fake seeds. We will eventually win this battle to make this country attain agenda four, SDG and MDG’’, he said.

He asked farmers to buy seeds from registered stockists and use a unique code on the packets to verify their authenticity. ‘’Farmers should be able to buy certified seeds from the companies that are registered and should be able to scratch the KEPHIS logo on the packet to find a number that establishes the variety, producer, batch and lifespan of the product’’, he added. “Also, if the seeds fail to germinate or have poor germination rates, they should report to us. Through this method we have beaten the fake seeds and are working to eliminate them,” he said. He added that KEPHIS had strengthened its supervisory role to ensure that all seed manufacturing companies comply with the laid down rules to avoid compromising food security.

The official urged farmers to embrace greenhouse farming to reduce pests and diseases that pose a menace to food security and increase production costs by requiring the use of more spray chemicals Kenya Seed Senior Corporate Communications Officer Company Jane Gitau challenged Journalists to step up the fight against counterfeits which she noted threatened to erode the productivity of maize and other cereals. ‘’Through your reporting on fake seeds this country will be able to put an end to manufacturing and selling of fake seeds that are harmful to your health if consumed’’, she said. Ms Gitau said the reality of climate change had resulted in delayed and below-average rainfall and higher than normal temperatures.

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