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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Laikipia cooperative now certified as seed agents

By Bob Aston 

Sipili farmers have persistently been complaining about low farm yields due to use of fake fertilizer. This is now set to change as a co-operative operating in Laikipia County though based in Sipili division has been certified as seed agent. Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative society will now be supplying certified hybrid seeds to farmers.
The co-operative has been able to get seed certification from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) and they can now get seeds directly from the Kenya Seed Company ltd.
The Co-operative members displaying their products
“We are going to ensure that farmers receive quality seeds and other inputs so as to maximize their crop production as well as ensuring that farmers are not at risk of being provided with low quality input,” said Samwel Mbogo, the Vice Chairman of the Co-operative.
Seeds are a basic input that sets the potential for crop yield. Demand for certified seeds has been on the rise owing to need to boost food production.
“Our main aim was to get certified hybrid seeds and we would like to urge all farmers to join the Co-operative so that we can all benefit,” said Peter Mwaniki, a committee member.
Mwaniki said that it had been a long journey but they are now set to start enjoying the fruit of their hard work. They are now taking orders from farmers who want seeds. More than 50 farmers around Sipili and its environs have already placed orders for certified seeds.
“We expect to bring the first seed consignment in the next two weeks. The information that we have accessed from Ng’arua Maarifa Centre has really empowered us as a co-operative,” said Mwaniki.
The Co-operative now expects to be able to sell seeds, fertilizer and other inputs in bulk. The Cooperative has already started complying with the conditions set in the seed regulations (The seed and plant varieties Act: Cap 326, Laws of Kenya).
The Co-operative members displaying their products
“We have been trained and the co-operative will help us a lot as we will be able to get certified seeds and fertilizer at a good price,” said Stephen Gachego.
Stephen said that most farmers from Sipili usually fail to finding fertilizer, they would spend money going to Nyahururu but most of the time they would return empty handed as they would find when fertilizer was already over.
“It has been a challenge for sometime as we used to go to Nyahururu to collect fertilizer. People used to go to the Ministry of Agriculture in Sipili to be issued with receipts then they would proceed to Nyahururu to collect fertilizer,” said Gachego.
Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society is spearheading  market access initiatives using modern technologies, supporting community needs assessments and information dissemination, organizing trainings, networking and capacity building for farmers, mobilizing farming communities into common interest producer groups ,enabling farmers to access input and bulk their produce for easier marketing, promoting quality control and post harvest handling as well as supporting farmers and local communities to access information on farming.
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, with support from the Ford Foundation, initiated the formation of the Co-operative to help farmers bulk produce, particularly maize. The Co-operative which was formed last year already has more than 200 registered members.
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