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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Last minute rush for certified hybrid seeds

By Philip Mwamrizi
The Kenya Seed Company Ltd has been organizing road shows across the country to teach farmers on the type of seeds required and methods of farming. The road show reached Sipili Shopping Centre on the evening of Tuesday 25th March. A Caravan of up to ten vehicles comprising vans, pickups, lorries, and a mobile stage from a fabricated container roved the all weather roads of the area.
Farmers queing to buy certified seeds
“We could have been more. It is so unfortunate that some of the stakeholders such as KARI who were advocating for soil testing and who we were moving with could not make it here,” said Francis Mwaura, Kenya Seed Company Ltd Sales and Marketing Manager.
Talk by top notch Kenyan celebrity entertainers such as David who is with the Churchill show, zangalewa dancers among others attracted a large crowd of people. Students who were heading home from school found themselves stuck and glued to the music.
As the entertainment went on, the seed company officials simultaneously sold seeds to a large number of enthusiastic farmers who had thronged the place to buy the certified hybrid seeds.
Kenya Seed Company Ltd officials turned one of the pickups into a retail centre while few metres behind was a lorry which was acting as a ‘store’.
“We have all the variety suitable for this region. Our price today is even lower than for certified seed agents of Kenya Seed Company Ltd, as we have not included transport cost,” said Mwaura.
Farmers queing to buy certified seeds
“We are trying to build the confidence of the farmers in this region together with Laikipia Produce and Marketing cooperative society as cases of sale of fake seeds has been high here,” added Mwaura.
It is said that some of the region farmers last season planted fake seeds which had poor returns. Mwaura said that it is for this reason that they decided to come to Sipili and sell seeds directly to farmers.
“The issue of fake seeds has been a big problem. We are even saying they are becoming our competitors. This is a multimillion market in the agricultural sector and it was bound to attract some unscrupulous traders. The days of people selling fake seeds to farmers will soon come to an end as we are devising strategies on how to eliminate the vice,” said Mwaura.
Mwaura said that they are currently working on a verification system. Once the system has been finalized farmers will be able to send serial numbers printed on the packaging paper of seeds to a short network number. The system will then verify the authenticity of the seeds.
Certified seeds being loaded into a pickup
Mwaura said that no serial number will be able to be used twice and someone will not be able to generate a serial number on his or her own.
Francis Gikuma, a farmer who had bought more than fifty kilos of maize seeds said that he spontaneously decided to buy the seeds as he knew that he would not get another opportunity.
“I have spent all the money that I had to buy maize seeds. Buying from Kenya seed guarantees me that I have purchased certified hybrid seeds,” said Gikuma.
Kenya Seed Company Ltd could not meet the huge demand of farmers in the area and this prompted them to leave a large stock of certified seeds with Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society to sell to farmers.
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