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Government seed agency warns farmers of fake seeds in the market

SEEDS on display

Various seeds on display. KEPHIS is warning farmers of fake seeds in the market. The fake seeds don not germinate whereas others give poor yields.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), government parastatal responsible for quality of agricultural inputs and produce has found and confiscated 13,500kgs of fake seeds worth Sh2.5m which were intended to be sold to farmers this planting season prompting the agency to warn farmers against buying such seeds which may affect their yields.

The fake seeds were seized in a warehouse in Nakuru town at stores leased by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) where 13.5 tonnes of uncertified seeds were found.

“Farmers should be keen when buying seeds. They should not purchase seeds not certified by KEPHIS. Most of them don not germinate whereas others give poor yields,” said KEPHIS managing director Esther Kimani.

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Seeds seized during the search include maize, soybeans, sorghum and green grams seeds. These seeds were already packaged for distribution to farmers in various parts of the country.

“Our officers received information that some of the fake seeds were being sold to farmers. Some of dealers who were selling the seeds led us to the NCPD stores,” she said.

“It is regrettable that some of the uncertified seeds had already been sold to farmers in Molo, Nyahururu and Homa Bay.”

How to identify certified seeds

When buying seeds, farmers should first check the seed packages. The packages must be sealed and bear KEPHIS high-tech label stickers.

The stickers have a serial number beneath them. Therefore farmers are advised to scratch the stickers and SMS the serial number for free to 1393.

“After a moment they will receive an SMS feedback indicating the details of the seeds which include the seeds’ production company, date of production as well as the seeds’ lifespan,” said Ephraim Washira, Head of Inspectorate, Nakuru region.

“In case the seeds do not have the details as specified, farmers should immediately call to register their complains through our hotline +254 709891000.”

RELATED ARTICLE: How to spot fake seeds in the market

The high-tech label stickers were introduced July last year by Seed Trade Association of Kenya (STAK), in partnership with KEPHIS , Agri Experience, and Kenya Markets Trust in a bid to allow farmers to ascertain that the seeds they buy from stockists are genuine and certified.

Kenyans consume 100,000 bags of maize a day, yet the country’s maize yields are very low, averaging 1.66 metric tonnes per hectares, compared to 2.5 metric tonnes per hectares for Uganda and 3.42 metric tonnes per hectares for Ethiopia, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation statistics.

With cases of fake seeds, drought and post-harvest loses, the country will therefore continue importing maize to fill the gap in the demand against production.

Warnings

Besides warning farmers about fake dealers selling fake seeds, KEPHIS is also warning dealers and companies which could be involved in faking farmers that they will be charged according to the regulations acts in place.

“Those selling uncertified seeds should know that they will face court cases to answer once they are found. This has happened before and we are not relenting because we have to protect the farmer,” said Washira.

“Farmers and members of the public are also encouraged to report any cases of fake seeds to help the officers and the police net the unscrupulous business people.”

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The company caught in the Nakuru saga had been warned severally about selling fake seeds, Said Dr Kimani, adding that stern action will be taken against the guilty firms to serve as an example to others with similar intentions.

Kimani said KEPHIS will work with farmers and other stakeholders to ensure supply of quality seeds.

“The agency will not allow companies to mislead farmers by selling them counterfeit seeds. We will put in place stringent measures to save farmers.”

“Our officers will continue inspecting seeds sold in the country to ensure farmers are not lured by ill-mannered traders.”

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