The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) has rolled out an elaborate programme to scale up availability of certified seeds across the country.
Through an initiative dubbed Mkulima Shop, the state agency plans to open 16 outlets across the country for farmers to access quality certified seeds.
KALRO Deputy Director General Crops, Felister Makini said the move targets to bridge the shortage of certified seeds in the country and at the same time support farmers plant the right varieties within their respective regions to boost food security.
Makini said KALRO has developed high quality seeds and crop varieties adding that through the Mkulima Shop initiative, the technologies would be made accessible and available to farmers across the country to boost production.
Speaking during the opening of a Mkulima Shop at KALRO Kibos centre in Kisumu, Makini said the move was necessitated by the rising demand for quality seeds from the research body.
“We have continued to witness a demand for quality seeds from KALRO. Farmers now have an assurance that if they come to this shop at any time they will find quality KALRO varieties,” she said.
The seed varieties, developed through extensive research, she said, have been certified by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and were fit for planting in the specific regions where they are stocked adding that more work was being done to develop additional seeds and varieties to meet the demand.
“Seed production is very expensive. Therefore, as we continue to see the demand we shall expand production,” she said.
The seeds available at the shops, she said include maize, rice, cow peas, soya beans, sunflower, cotton, sorghum and green grams.
The current shortage of certified seeds, she said, has seen unscrupulous businessmen flood the market with substandard seeds, threatening to derail the gains made in the sector asking farmers to take advantage of the initiative and procure certified seeds from KALRO.
“It is paramount to ensure that farmers get the right seeds. This is because uncertified seeds come along with the challenge of pests, diseases and other constraints which is disadvantageous to the farmers,” she said.
KALRO, she added, was working closely with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and other state agencies to crackdown on outlets selling uncertified seeds.
“We are now telling our competitors that KALRO is here and we have the capacity to produce enough seeds for our farmers,” she said.
Robert Musyoki, Director KALRO SEEDS said measures have been put in place to scale up production to ensure farmers have access to quality certified seeds across the country.
Production, he said was at different stages at KALRO farms across the country adding that the seeds will be made available at the Mkulima shops and selected agrovets.
The Kisumu shop, he said is the second to be opened in the country after Mtwapa adding that additional shops were set to be opened to bring KALRO seeds closer to farmers.
The 16 shops, he said, shall be linked for proper stock taking and coordination to ensure steady supply of the seeds throughout the year.
“The Director General will be able to see from Nairobi how the shops are performing and institute measures whenever necessary,” he said.
By Chris Mahandara