KENYA – The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has warned that counterfeit seeds are the leading contributor to poor harvests, food and nutritional insecurity, and low crop production in the country.

Speaking while opening a ‘Mkulima shop’ at Njoro Township, within Nakuru County, KALRO Director in Charge of Food Crops and Research, Dr. Godwin Macharia, disclosed that the proliferation of cartels and unscrupulous businessmen dealing in fake seeds are to blame for poor or no harvests.

Last year, KALRO rolled out an elaborate program to scale up the availability of certified seeds across the country through the ‘Mkulima shop’ initiative.

The initiative under the state agency is in a move to open 16 outlets across the country for farmers to access quality certified seeds.

According to KALRO, the move to establish the initiative was necessitated by the rising demand for quality seeds from the research body amid the increasing number of fake seeds in the country.

While indicating that KALRO intended to open the Mkulima shop in all its 54 centers across the country, Dr. Macharia revealed that researchers from the organization have developed high-yielding, drought- and disease-resistant bean, sweet potato, sunflower, and cassava seed varieties in a bid to encourage alternative crops in the face of reduced maize production.

Other seeds that farmers would access from Mkulima Shop at low prices include green grams, sorghum, millet, cowpeas, maize, rice, and wheat among others.

The varieties, he said, would be able to withstand drought, pests, and diseases that have seen farmers’ yields reduced to zero percent. He, however, urged farmers to only use seeds certified by the research organization.

KALRO provides clean planting materials to farmers. That’s why we are encouraging farmers to get certified seeds from our institutions to reduce the chances of the diseases being spread,” he said.

Dr. Macharia urged people to be on the lookout for fake seeds ahead of the planting season due in a few months, adding that some unscrupulous individuals and firms are packaging and selling fake seeds.

However, he said they were working with other authorities to dismantle these cartels. He added that farmers were also grappling with poor quality seeds, inadequacy of seed for most crops, and, where available, exorbitant prices.

According to him, the government has developed a robust system to ease access to quality seeds by farmers by establishing KALRO Seeds.

KALRO has so far established 17 shops located in AMRI Katumani, HRI Kandara, ICRI Mtwapa, DRI Ol Joro Orok, FCRI Embu, ICRI Mwea, FCRI Njoro, FCRI Kitale, FCRC Alupe and FCRC Muguga. Others are in HRC Kibos, HRC Matuga, HRC Tigoni, NRRI Kakamega, Kalro Seeds Thika, FCRC Kabete, and Kalro headquarters in Loresho.

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