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Report cites cause of seeds shortage in Kenya’s bread basket

By ANTONY GITONGA | Published Wed, March 18th 2015 at 00:00, Updated March 17th 2015 at 23:15 GMT +3

NAIVASHA: The acute shortage of seeds in the country every planting season has been attributed to the high number of farmers seeking certified seeds against a few crop breeders.

A new report on the situation of the seeds sector in the country paints a grim picture of Kenya's situation as farmers continue to record low produce due to an increase in fake seeds in the market.

The African Seed Access Index (TASAI) report shows the country has only 68 crop breeders serving six million farmers, leading to an acute shortage of certified seeds in the market every planting season.

No access

"This could be a reason why Kenyan farmers often lack access to improved varieties of staple crops such as maize, cowpea and sorghum, and yields are low," says the report.

The report incidentally comes a day after German Food Partnership Potato Initiative Africa (GFP PIA) said the country faced an acute shortage of certified potato seeds.

According to the potato initiative, only five per cent of potato seeds in the market are certified.

This is echoed by the TASAI assessment, which was monitoring the state of the evolving seed sector in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In terms of innovation, South Africa is leading, with data indicating that the country released 221 varieties of maize, while Kenya released 38, Uganda 12 and Zimbabwe 28.

According to the head of the TASAI project, Ed Mabaya, the biggest challenge facing farmers on the continent is lack of improved seed varieties.

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