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Farmers urged to embrace indigenous seeds

As Kakamega County marks World Food Day, Seed Savers Network has made a clarion call to farmers to embrace indigenous seeds and shift to organic farming.

According to Seed Savers Network Programmes Officer Mercy Ambani, organic farming using indigenous seeds is less costly and more affordable for small-scale farmers, and the resulting crops are nutritious, safe, and free from harmful chemicals.

Speaking at Bukura Agricultural Training College during an exhibition to mark World Food Day, Ambani noted that the Seed Savers Network supports farmers in continuing to preserve their indigenous seeds, which are now withstanding climate change and the vagaries of weather.

She said with indigenous seeds, farmers are assured of the availability of food on their farms at all times to feed their families and enough seeds to sell and earn some money.

“Our main goal is to ensure farmers have access to diverse seeds, and our main focus is on traditional seeds that are available in the communities because, at planting time, they may extract the seeds they have stored in the community seed bank and replant them,” she added.

She noted that instead of inorganic fertilisers, farmers under the Seed Savers network also produce vermicompost to obtain liquid organic fertiliser and manure that they use on their farms.

Farmers also use traditional methods to preserve the indigenous seeds, like drying Lantana Camara and crushing it to obtain dust. The dust is then used to preserve the indigenous seeds.

Farmers can also use soot, ash, and brick dust that are organic and free of any chemicals that might be harmful to the seeds.

“The main goal is to have agro-biodiversity conservation because researchers also need the seeds for breeding and to have well-adapted seeds,” she disclosed.

The organisation is also supporting farmers to register their seeds to control biopiracy, where they lose their seeds to unscrupulous people.

She further noted that Seed Savers Network is also linking farmers to markets through an online seed exchange platform where the farmers are connected and sell their seeds to customers across the country.

“So, farmers’ livelihoods have improved because they earn income from the sale of their seeds, and at the same time, they are able to preserve their indigenous seeds to produce crops at a minimal cost,” she pointed out.

A farmer, Mary Alekea, from Navakholo Sub County, said she has shifted to organic farming, where she plants crops using indigenous seeds and manure.

She noted that she grows crops for food and also to specifically produce seeds for planting, which she preserves using ash, soot, dried pawpaw leaves, charcoal, and chilli.

By Moses Wekesa

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