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Government agency connects farmers to clean disease free seeds

SEEDS on display
Seeds on display at an agrovet. Courtesy

Farmers in the South Rift region counties such as Bomet, Kisii, and Nyamira are benefiting from connection to clean planting materials and ready markets for crops such as passion fruits and avocado thanks to the Agriculture and Food Authority which is tasked to sustainably develop and promote scheduled crops value chains through effective regulation for economic growth.

According to the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, the informal sector in Kenya accounts for about 60 to 70 per cent of most seeds planted by farmers across the country. These seeds are usually uncertified therefore denying farmers the chance to maximize yields on their farms. The hardest hit areas include western Kenya and the Rift Valley regions, which form a bulk of Kenya’s bread basket.

Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) reports that on average only about 20 per cent of farmers in Africa use seeds of improved varieties.

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Before farmers plant crops, AFA advises them on market availability so as to ensure that they sell their produce when harvested without incurring post-harvest losses. In this, the directorate connects farmers with certified seed merchants such as Kenya Seed in Bomet town as well as buyers of the produce.

The authority also offers crop experts who work hand in hand with farmers from the initial crop production stage to harvesting and marketing.

“At AFA, we encourage contract farming whereby we act as witnesses between farmers and buyers of the produce, we have so far connected more than 100 farmers to Mara farm and DianaKim , the companies that buy avocadoes and passion fruits respectively,” said Lorine Ochari, the station manager of the Horticulture and Crops Directorate in Nyamira County.

“Initially farmers in the region relied on uncertified seeds to grow their crops, but since AFA chipped in 2016, farmers in the region have reported increased yields of up to 75 per cent,”

According to Lorine Ochari, farmers in the region are now embracing horticulture which is the fastest-growing agricultural subsector in the country and ranked third in foreign exchange earnings after tourism and tea.

Kenya’s horticulture earnings earned the country Sh56.23bn in the first four months of 2018 up from Sh40.57bn in a similar period last year according to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

In this, flower exports recorded a 40.41 per cent increase in sales to Sh42.59n up from Sh30.33n in 2017 while fruits and vegetables earned Sh4.98bn and 9.26bn respectively.

Ochari can be reached on +25427018048.

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