By NICHOLAS WAITATHU
NAIROBI, KENYA: Unscrupulous traders are selling fake maize seeds to farmers, a situation that might compromise food production in the country.
Kenya Seed Company (KSC) confirmed that sale of fake maize seeds has been detected in Nyeri and Nyandarua counties.
Managing Director Willy Bett disclosed that the market is in short supply of preferred Kenya seed varieties like H6213, which is said to produce up to 52 bags of maize an acre, up from an average of 25 to 30kg for other varieties. “In fact we released into the market the last stock of 20 tonnes of the variety Tuesday. However, the other highland varieties, H614, H629, H210, H625 and H26 are in adequate supply,” said Bett in a phone interview.
“Following shortage of the variety, dishonest dealers have emerged and are now selling to growers counterfeit maize seeds. We have deployed our officers to the said areas to track down the dishonest agents with a view to protecting farmers from more damage,” said Bett. He admitted that every year, the brokers have been exploiting shortage of some varieties to sell substandard seeds, which has contributed to poor production of maize.
However, authorities have intensified vigilance to get rid of the bogus traders. Brief case seed companies are said to be currently controlling between 10 and 20 per cent of the total seed market.
The seeds industry’s annual turnover stands at more than Sh5.1 billion ($60milion) out of which 20 per cent is business being promoted by dishonest traders selling fake seeds.
The admission by KSC about the sale of fake seeds comes after various agricultural institutions insisted that the same is widespread.
Egerton’s Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development Tuesday claimed that the country is currently facing a shortage of some seed varieties.